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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  August 14, 2013 9:00pm-1:01am EDT

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germond >> more advocacy issues and preparing for the legislative session with andy roth. recent development in the u.s. and global oil industry issues, and president obama's approving of the keystone pipeline. span, we'reere on c- asking you who do you think master presents the future of your political party? look at portions of video from established and up-and-coming political figures.
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you are watching, and looking to leave the party you support. daysll take a look at the topics of the day. season two of first ladies influence and image begins monday, september 9 with a look a look at -- with edith roosevelt. programs on every first lady from martha washington wine mckinley. tonight, harriet lane. quite she is probably the most tragic of all the first ladies. she hated it with a passion. she did not move into the white
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house with peace. >> they had eight rooms they had to furnish. when she arrived, she basically holed up and spent much of her time writing letters to her dead son. she called them my presaged child. a very poignant letter. , andey were returning there was a terrible accident. . it was devastating for the family. god.she concluded this was forhe house was too much jane to take care of. i don't think she was interested in housekeeping particularly. >> most regarded peer us as a failure in the office. >> it was the happiest of all
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presidencies. >> good evening. on this program, we learned about the final first ladies of the antebellum era. whose tenurepierce was defined by overwhelming loss. the time she and her husband are brought to the executive mansion, they have lost all fore of their young sons the next 45 minutes, we will .elve into jane pierce good evening. welcome. >> set the stage for the conversation. what are the issues that bring franklin pierce to the white house? >> the situation was dire. everything was in turmoil. there were problems between the north and south. this slavery issues.
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the democratic party she belongs there was a situation where they were having to find a nominee for the election. franklin pierce appeared to them to be the best that -- best bet at that time. education.use of his he had remained popular with the south. a was felt that there was good chance that he would win nomination. there was a quite -- great dear -- there was a great deal of politicking. eventually he was nominated. the 48 ballot. that was the situation that he found himself in.
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>> despite the 48 balance to get the nomination, he won in a landslide. >> he did. >> they came in popular. tell us about the one we were describing as the reluctant first lady. >> she was very reluctant. if she had any influences, they were negative. house, ainto the white 47-year-old lady. she hated politics. she was obviously deeply depressed at the death of her last surviving son. especially under the circumstances in which she died. the whitence within house at the time, she didn't come to the white house after
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the inauguration. when she came, she immediately -- such was her influence with her husband that he agreed to it. that.epted the morning lasted for over two years. as far as influence was tocerned, she did manage influence the powers that be. yes, she influenced that. as far as any other incidents, i find it negative.
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they made the white house a morbid place. >> the country was deeply divided. >> how did this woman who hated politics with a strong father who was the president of boating college, she was deeply fundamentalist or self, how did she get matched up with a politician? >> i do not really know. my research tell me that they'd did think that about each other they were opposite completely and utterly. . when she was 17 years old, she and she her education, came home confident.
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she had gone to her uncle and mother, boston with her and she was showing -- to them. she was talking about a man who should have been made mayor in their town. and she was talking to them about a man who should have been made mayor in their town and hadn't been and she just didn't like it. and then she said to her uncle, amos, who was very, very important to her, why don't you stand for mayor? i think you'd make a very good mayor. >> i thinkyou stand? that a 17-year-old girl is stepping out into the world's, and using her newfound
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confidence, and suddenly put down by these people she loved best in the world. laughing at her. had are that could've lasting impression on her. and maybe, she thought to herself, i am never pointed talk politics again. >> before we get into our first video, and want to ask about your interest in jane pierce. you were british. how did this first lady who spared first two years hibernating attacked -- attract your attention? first hearden i about her she was a sensitive person. i thought, there must be a reason behind all this.
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she lost three of her sons. she was someone i found during my research who was extremely fond of children. she was made to be a mother. here she was, a mother without a child to love. that got to me. i'd like to know more about this lady, there must be more to her, then this apparent selfishness that she displayed toward her husband and his work. >> so in the end did you conclude that she was or was not selfish? >> she was to an extent but they were extenuating circumstances, i believe. >> well, to learn more about the story of jane pierce, we're going to learn more about this tragic death of their third son. the first two died early in life. and we're going to travel to her sister's home in andover, massachusetts, where we find out
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about the summer white house and more importantly the death of their beloved son, benny, which takes place as they travel to washington for the inauguration and just a few miles outside of town. this is andover, massachusetts. >> it was home to john and mary akin. mary was jane pierce's sister. they were very close friends throughout life. and mary was there for jane at all of her most important times in her life. jane and franklin came to andover to visit the family them. came here with their son, benny, to visit the cousins, mary and john had children and franklin and jane became very close and attached to those children after their son passed away. the family stayed at 48 central street which is referred to as the summer white house. it's called that because franklin pierce would come visit his wife in andover. jane would stay with her sister, mary, at 48 central street, and he would come visit them in the
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summers in particular. it was believed that the administrative staff stayed just across the road from them. jane and franklin were staying in andover because there had been a death in the family. jane's uncle, amos lawrence had, died. so they went to boston to attend that funeral. they returned to andover so they could pack their things and head where they could get ready to move to the white house. unfortunately the train ride was very devastating for the family. they were about a mile outside of andover, an axelrod broke on the train and it slipped on an embankment. as i understand it, benny was a child, he was moving about, this was within five minutes of the trade ride beginning, and when the train rolled down he was hit in the back of his head. very severely. and benny did not survive the crash. the services for benny took place at mary akin's house. they went to concord to bury benny but jane did not attend. she was very grief-stricken and could not make it to the final procession of the funeral.
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jane was very sick most of her life. she's been referred to as tubercular. >> extenuating circumstance, you describe her beloved only surviving child dying right in front of her eyes. anyone can appreciate how devastating that would be. >> yes, indeed. >> so, how did she take this grief to the white house? how did she approach her responsibilities there? >> she cast aside her responsibilities really. but fortunately franklin had a good secretary and she also had a mentor that was her aunt, abigail kent, who took over her duties. >> the white house was in mourning. we learned how incredibly social washington is.
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and how politics gets done in social interactions. >> yes. >> so here we have a critical time in the country and a white house in mourning. does that have a political impact? it would be difficult for franklin pierce to romance members of congress, for example, with -- >> yes. i was just going to make that point. he had -- appeared to have great difficulty informing his cabinets, at that time. perhaps they -- the attitude within the white house at that time, the fact that he didn't have jane around him to comfort him, as he had done, as she had done in previous problems they'd had together, and also he was mourning deeply, grieving deeply for benny himself. and the feeling is that he didn't get -- he could not put his whole heart and soul into
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the job of being president of the united states. and that a lot of people do feel that that delayed the establishment of his cabinet. it happened when he did establish the cabinet, it ran for the whole term which was the first time that a cabinet had run for the whole of the four years. so he did work well in the end by getting the best team together. but it's that sort of situation that did upset his way of working. to a large extent. >> when you read about her religious views, she believed, as i understand it, in a punitive god. there's retributions for
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actions. how did they process the death of their child? -- how did she process the death of their child? >> what do you mean? >> she did she blame herself or franklin pierce for it? how did she put that into perspective? >> she thought that it was god sort of punishing them for some misdemeanor. i think she did tend to blame franklin in some instance because he had not kept her aware of the circumstances of his nomination. when he did eventually inform her of the nomination, he reassured her that he wouldn't get elected, you know, i won't get elected. and i think she felt that he was being punished through the death of benny and she drew away from him and that made things
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completely worse. i think that if they had come together during that time and talked it through, they would have saved themselves a lot of unhappiness. >> and we should tell people that pierce had walked away from politics because of his concerns for jane. he resigned his senate seat. he went back to the family home. and essentially turned down appointments for things. so she felt that he left politics for good. >> yes. except the local politics. she accepted that he needed to continue with his politics and so he did. when he went back to new hampshire. she didn't mind that because she saw him every night. >> now, one interesting aspect of this is that she was on the second floor of the family quarters of the white house, but she was trying to seek some understanding of this. i understand that there was a spiritualist movement in the united states at the time and she in fact really sought out spiritualists along the way. what can you tell us about that?
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>> my understanding is that she did not seek them out, they sought her out. and i am aware from research that the letters shah she wrote to benny were not in any way mystical or spiritual. under the influence of these spiritualists. they were really a way for her to express her great grief and she wrote the letters and i think psychologists would agree with that because they do say if you're grieving or you've got some terrible loss, write it down, you know, and it helps. and it does. it's a proven fact nowadays. i don't know who suggested it to her, if anybody did, that she should write out these thoughts about her sorrow and his passing, but even if she started that herself, it was good
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because it must have helped her. >> this is an interactive program. if you've been watching us along the way on the series, you know there's several ways to get involved. you can send us a tweet, make sure you use the #firstladies. you can also post a question or comment on our facebook page. we have a conversation already started there. or you can phone us here are our phone lines. if you live in the eastern or central time zones 202-585-3880, or out west, 202-585-3881. we'll get for your comments and questions in a minute. our guests referred to letters written to jane pierce's son. we're going to learn about that next. we're going to travel to the new hampshire historical society which holds the papers of the pierce family and see two important letters in understanding of the will the story of jane pierce. >> this letter was written by benny pierce who was 11 years old. from andover, massachusetts, where he was visiting with his
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cousins in june of 1852. at the time the franklin pierce was nominated for president at democratic national convention in baltimore. franklin and his mother had been in boston waiting for news of the nomination. and benny was staying with relatives in andover. benny, knowing how much his mother disliked politics, wrote in the letter that i hope he won't be elected for i should not like to live in washington and i know you would not like to either. so this is an indication of the problems that franklin pierce is going to have with his wife and child as he ran for president in 1852. >> this is the most famous let that are jane pierce wrote. it was written to her dead son. he died in january of 1853 in a train wreck in andover, massachusetts. and some time after that she was in her great grief, she sat down and penciled this letter. to her dead son.
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in which she calls him my precious child. i must write to you although you are never to see it or know it. it wasn't sent anywhere obviously and it survives today. a very poignant letter written by a grieving mother who had lost all of her children. >> so, you agree with that analysis. that because of the use of pencil in writing the letter, it was really not meant to be published. >> no, or seen by anybody else. she was just expressing her grief. >> in general, as you did your research, was she much of a letter-writer? did you did she write a lot to relatives? >> she did. but increasingly her writing became worse and worse. and they were hardly legible in the end. but, yes, she was a letter writer, particularly to her mother. >> and what portrait can you help us understand in reading her letters and doing your research, tell us about her.
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>> i thought she was very selfish. she seemed hooked on being ill. and they were never serious illnesses. they were usually colds. and she would have a cold at the drop of a hat, actually. if she didn't want to do anything she would say, i'm sorry, i've got a cold coming on or i have a cold or i'm going to have a cold. she didn't like to mix with people and she used her supposed ill health when she didn't want to go and visit them or do anything. she was very fond of her mother and of her sister, mary. but she didn't seem to write very much to her sister,
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frances, for some reason. neither did frances write to her. they used to mainly get in touch with her through letters to their mother. will you tell frances this or don't forget to tell jane that. for some reason there wasn't a good relationship as far as letter writing was concerned. but jane -- why she had this peculiar need to control her family, which is what she was doing, by referring to her decreasing health, i can't fathom. nobody has been able to fathom that out. unless it was just a prop that she had, not to do things she didn't want to do. in a family letter and indeed in letters to friends, there was
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always a concern about jane, how is dear jane, is her cold any better? and -- but there was never any although she had treatment like blood letting, which was a favorite treatment in those days, there was never any diagnosis made she lived to quite a good age in her 60's, which was a good age in the 19th century. and it was at that stage where she was diagnosed as a -- [inaudible] but prior to that, no diagnosis had been made at all. so the impression i have got of jane is that she used the illness to get her own way. and she was going to have her own way, whatever happened. >> we have a question from phillip who is watching us in long beach, california. hi, you are on the air.
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welcome. >> hi. good evening, everybody. thank you very much for putting me on the air. you guys are talking about how gloomy things were in the white house, right? and didn't pierce's vice president die during his administration as well? >> yes, rufus king. he died within three months of being elected as vice president and they didn't have another vice president appointed after that. so, yes, you're quite right. which added, may i say, to jane's depression. she thought that doom and gloom and death was all around them. she was very unhappy about that. >> what was she doing on the second floor of the white house all of this time? could we know? was she reading? how did she occupy her time?
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>> she was very fortunate in that her whole family rallied and much to her husband's pleasure, she did come and see her, they did come and see jane and spend time with her, particularly her sister, mary's children, of whom they were both very fond. but franklin hardly went to see her so he was grateful that the family visited so he didn't have that chore, dare may i say, of having to go and -- to go into a morbid environment. he had enough to think about. , so yes, she wrote letters. she didn't have many friends, unfortunately. but she did have this wonderful family who kept her going and there always seemed to be somebody there.
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as far as reading, i don't think she did very much which was a shame because she was a very intellectual woman, highly educated. that intellect and that wonderful education seemed wasted in some ways. >> next question comes from bonnie who is watching us in cincinnati. hi, bonnie, you're on the air. >> hi. thank you for taking my call. this is a most intriguing subject. i do collect albums from the 1840's and 1850's of the central united states. and i do own a journal that was written by a family member of william henry harrison. the harrison family coming from cincinnati. after his death, frequently the letters that do i have, i'm not a member of that family, however i do have several of the letters and albums hand written, journals, and frequently similar to mrs. pierce, in the older women, elders of the family, there is the serious concern and doom and gloom of just in
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general attitude toward who has deceased, who has succumbed to that. of course, consumption or tuberculosis as we know was a very common ailment in cincinnati, quite that. and i find that the prompting that she may have had to write about her deceased child may have come on her own. i have seen a new one but do see a letter from mrs. harrison, the daughter-in-law who went to the white house with william henry, one of her sons did die upon coming home after being shortly in the white house, and she had written a small letter, it is in the papers here in the historical society. >> thanks. i'm going to jump in because we understand that your comment here, which is writing to the
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deceased relative would have been somewhat common at the time. >> yes. she's made a very good point. >> a related question from john on facebook, he wants to know, was jane pierce criticized for her connections with spiritualism, even if they may not have been of her own choosing? >> not to my knowledge. >> so, the public was kind of intrigued by spiritualism at this time? she was in the fashion in that regard. >> i suppose so. but i haven't seen any criticism except the only criticism i did find out about was the spiritualists making themselves known to her. she could have done without that. >> danville, virginia, hi, c.b. >> hi. just thank you for taking my call. and i had a comment. i was -- i have a friend that fits in the same mold as jane pierce. we call her a convenient invalid.
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but i also wanted to comment on the fact that i do arrange for rentals at a local museum and we have a hospice group that is going to be having a workshop for walking people through the process of keeping a journal, writing to their deceased ones or their family members that are in hospice care. so i thought it was kind of interesting, that that's something that was done 150 years ago and people are still doing it today. >> thank you so much. would you agree, the convenient invalid? >> yes, that was a very good description. >> before we go to our next video, you mentioned that abbey kent means helped out as the official hostess. who was she? >> she was, well, she had been a friend of jane.
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james uncle married her. they were very close. concordel take you to -- he pierce >> franklin pierce had finished serving in the congress. he resigned from the sea in the senate about a year earlier than the term was up. this is the only house they ever around. they bought it in late may. >> we're in the dining room.
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typically the family would have their main meal at noon time. jane pierce was a shy,, reclusive person. she didn't entertain a lot in her private home. this couch belonged to jane pierce. this is one piece they took to the white house. they had eight rooms that they had to furnish with their personal furniture, and so this was one of the pieces that they took to the white house with them. this table was known in jane's sister's family as the white house table. they had to borrow some furniture to if a to the white house with them and this was one piece they borrowed from jane's sister, mary. they also took the little writing desk and chair that belonged to franklin pierce. this room would have been used as the guest room. however, the bed that's in this room is a small bed, and we think this belonged to benny pierce. it's been refinished and lengthened so it fits in a doubt.
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this is the master bedroom of the pierce manse and the room franklin and jane would have used. this is the room where their second son frankie died of typhus when he was 4 years old. this was a blow to jane and franklin. he was the apple of their eye, quite an interesting little character, according to her letters. and they were devastated by his death and jane was in mourning quite a long time over frankie's death. >> i think a big house especially with only one child now was too much for jane to take care of. i don't think she was interested in housekeeping particularly. i think she just wasn't capable of taking care of a house. pierce went off to fight in the mexican war in 1847 and they sold the house when he came back in 1848 and then they lived in a boarding house again in concord and lived in a boarding situation for the rest of their lives.
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>> we return to washington and the story of the white house because a fairly amazing thing, at least to my ears, seemed to happen which is two years into this darkness and mourning and reclusive life on the second floor of the white house, she comes out of it. how did that happen and what was this new jane pierce like? >> it happened because that was the end of the mourning period. normally, as i said earlier, it would have been just 12 months mourning but jane being jane, she took two years to get over the problem that she had over benny's death. and she wasn't exactly a new jane because she had, in spite of what people had said, she had participated in some of the events within the white house during the first two years. the meetings that the first
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ladies had every friday, and afternoon tea, i think it was, when people could come in and see her and speak with her, anybody could go, she did attend most of them. and this is evidenced by a man called h. hoover was the marshall of the district of columbia during that time, and he wrote to a mary witten who wrote about the first ladies and lived during the time of jane pierce. and it is evident that she did in fact attend these friday meetings, as much as she could. and sometimes she attended some important dinners that franklin pierce had to have. but when the mourning period
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finished, perhaps it was a relief to her, i don't know, but she did attend more and more and she even attended the president's letters he had on a thursday afternoon. so it wasn't a sudden new jane that appeared, it was she just appeared more than she did. >> next is a question from tony in shaker heights, ohio. hi, tony. >> yes, hi. thank you for taking my call. i'm curious, i know franklin pierce was a good friend of nathaniel hawthorne, the writer, and i think hawthorne wrote his campaign biography. i'm curious, what was hawthorne's relationship with jane pierce? he could be moody as well. >> thanks for the question and timely because certain biographies suggest it was
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nathaniel hawthorne and irena davis we'll learn about who were two of the very well known characters who helped with her reintroduction to society in washington. >> yes, yes. she didn't have a fairly good relationship with hawthorne really because he didn't like her and he felt that she was holding jane back and he wrote the biography for franklin's election and he wrote to her more than once, i wish we could change his wife. it wasn't a very good relationship back. he never was rude to her. he helped her as much as he could. he took her out on outings during the two-year mourning period. but he did his best to maintain the relationship simply because he was the wife of one of his best friends. >> as we said earlier, the country was coming apart at the seams, the republican party was beginning to emerge in reaction to the politics. >> yes. >> we have some of the key events of the pierce
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administration to show you some of the issues the president was grappling with while he had these family issues at home. and they include in 1853, the 1854 gadsden purchase, the treaty of kanagawa and the canada reciprocity treaty. and the first republican meeting happened in response to the national politics. it's interesting jane pierce became very involved in the slavery issue and in fact got -- one of the discussions over the kansas-nebraska act became very vocal in advising the president, her husband, the president. >> what you're referring to is the situation where nancy mason, her aunt, whose husband was dead by then, but he had a relative, i've forgotten his name now but
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she had a relative, he was the leader of the anti-slavery movement in the kansas area. and he had been held in a court and found guilty of a misdemeanor because that was every pro slavery area at that time and he was threatening to take this man, robinson, that's his name. dr. robinson. and he was threatening to take robinson to court, and if found guilty, which was likely, in that state at that time, he would be hanged. and so nancy had written to jane to make a plea to try and save dr. robinson from this fate. by then she was beginning to see franklin a little bit more. they met by then and she had an
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opportunity to speak to him about it. he listened very carefully and then he telegraphed to the appropriate person, and dr. robinson was freed. that is the incident i know about. i don't know of any other incident where she might have been useful and persuasive with regard to this situation. >> do we know her husband and she had differing views on slavery and abolition. >> they both were anti-slavery but he saw the sense of them having slaves in the south. and that was the difference between them. >> let me take a call next from karl in san diego. hi, karl, you're on. >> thank you. i read that franklin pierce had a drinking problem. i don't know whether it was during his presidency or after or what? but if so, how much of an
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influence did the loss of his children and his wife's supposed frequent illnesses contribute to the drinking problem, if that's true? >> thank you. >> well, we can't answer that truly, can we? after he left the senate and came back to live in concord, he gave up alcohol. when he went down to the mexican war, we hear that he probably took to alcohol again. it wasn't a new thing. and franklin always drank and his father had been a tavern keeper. and he spent a lot of time with his father, so that's probably where he took up the drinking habit. after the mexican war, he didn't let jane see him drink but i
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think he kept on drinking. so i think it got heavier at his most unhappy times. but i don't think that it was as a result particularly of those circumstances. i think he'd been drinking anyway. >> this unhappy white house was doomed to be a one-term pregnancy. can you tell us any more about why franklin pierce left the white house? >> it was -- he'd signed the kansas-nebraska act and that was a very unpopular thing to do. it was -- he didn't write it, douglas drew it up. >> steven a. douglas. >> yes, steven a. douglas. but franklin signed it. if he hadn't have signed it, i don't think he would have lost the -- his popularity, because he was still deemed to be a very good politician.
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you he did that. he shouldn't have done, perhaps. we see that with james buchanan and steven a. douglas put their names forward as nominees for the presidency. which meant that franklin wouldn't have had the 2/3 majority he needed to be renominated, and he knew with the three nominees like that. and on the 17th ballot, james buchanan won the nomination and election for president. >> next up is mary in louisville, kentucky. hi, mary. your question? >> my question is, my name is mary means, and i believe that jane pierce's mother's maiden name was means. >> yes. >> and she was born, jane was, in hampton, new jersey. can tell me if that's where the meanses were from?
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>> no, they weren't. the means family, to which jane belonged, originated from ireland, i believe, when means i think it was frederick means immigrated to america and alongside him came his son, robert means. and robert was a weaver and became quite famous for making very good quality irish cloth. as a result of that, he made a little bit of money and decided that he would set up a business in new hampshire and just by sheer luck chose earnest and went to new hampshire and became
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very rich, very famous as a very good entrepreneur, and that's how -- that's where that means family came from. >> well, with the loss of the white house for the pierces, how did they spend their post white house years? >> the first six months they stayed with the former secretary of state, and then james buchanan who liked franklin pierce, although he didn't like his politics but he liked him very much, respected him, also felt very sorry for the situation of jane's deteriorating illness, so he said would you like to move over to medira, if you do, you can go for six months and you can go. so jane wasn't going to go but her aunt mary decided that she
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must go. so they got her to go, so off they went to medira and unknown to her and together with sydney webster, they also organized a european trip which happened to take two years. but they first went to medira and left it and jane improved dramatically and even went horse riding and hardly ever had a cold and she -- for being 85 pounds in weight rose to 100 pounds in weight, she loved every minute of it and wrote a letter to her sister during that time to say, i can't believe who i was when i was in the white house. i'm a completely different person. so that's where they went for the first six months. and jane improved tremendously,
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as did franklin because he didn't have the worries of the state. then they set off on their wonderful european tour. towards the end of that tour, he started being ill again and she was disappointed. she said it is disappointing after such a long time of being well. when they eventually got back to concord in new hampshire, franklin bought a farm but she became so ill she went to live with her sister in andover, maryland, where benny had been taken after the accident, and she died there. >> where was she buried? >> she's buried in -- she's in the -- i forgot of the cemetery. >> in new hampshire. the whole family is all together. >> her family is all together,
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yes. >> well, that ends our story of jane pierce, but as we hear the incoming president buchanan was fond of them, and in our next segment of first ladies, influence and image, we're going to learn more about the buchanan administration. we're going to introduce you to harriet lane who just at the age of 27 joined her uncle, james buchanan, who is our only bachelor president, in the white house, to serve as official hostess. she was well-educated and well- traveled and she became a popular figure in an otherwise tenuous time in a country on the brink of civil war and we'll tell you more about her in this video. >> harriet lane is a unique figure. she was 27 years old and the niece of our only bachelor president, james buchanan. >> we have a small doll that was not a play thing owned by miss lane but rather created to look like her when she was a first lady. >> she had been well-trained and learned discretion from her
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diplomat uncle and one of harriet's great admirers was queen victoria. >> this was a gift the queen gave harriet, a beautiful gold bracelet and inside it has her name, harriet lane, and the date of 1857 when she received the gift. the delegation came to the white house in 1860 and they came bearing all types of gifts, beautiful little shoes, paper folded objects, origami, little dictionary. ms. lane and her friend found all these things very intriguing. >> the great social triumph would be the first visit by the prince of wales and future edward vii and harriet presided over that. >> she'd wear gowns with many ruffles and white berthas at the neck and was known for her low neckline and wasn't in fashion yet and people copied her. some of her portraits created scandal because she was showing a lot of skin.
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>> she was young and style issue and became a celebrity. she was a precursor to the modern first lady. >> tell us more about harriet lane. we have two women at our table who both have been students of the american first ladies. meet feather schwartz foster. one of her book is called "the first ladies, an intimate portrait of the women who shaped america.? and ann covella is with us, "remembering the ladies, a century of u.s. first lady's." we just had a doom and gloom white house and in come the buchanans. what was the atmosphere in the buchanan white house? >> the atmosphere, the political atmosphere was just terrible. it really was. buchanan got to be president, personally, i think, he had been a contender for about 12 years. he was very well known and had been in politics like 40 years. he was an old man by the time he got to be president.
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>> now, careful. how old was he? >> about 65. so he is definitely an older man. and i think that he got elected president because he had been out of the country for four years during the pierce administration, so he didn't get tainted with a lot of the politicking and the ugliness and the divisiveness that had been going on. >> were they looking again for a compromised candidate? >> they were looking for someone they used the word "available" a lot. that does not mean he had nothing better to do. it meant that he -- he would be acceptable all the way around. >> and what was the spirit of his white house? even with all the strife in the country. >> i think the best way to put it is that politically he was a dud. he ranked as the bottom of the barrel. but the whole white house, the atmosphere in the white house
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was brilliant. i don't think there had been anything like it since dolly madison. he had a flurry with julia tyler but he was only around for eight months and past that, the white house didn't really sparkle, but under buchanan, it sparkled. >> the woman responsible for coordinating life in the white house was harriet lane. who was harriet lane? >> she was the niece of james buchanan. she'd been orphaned at an early age and he took her under his wing. when her father died, i think he was made aware -- made it her guardian. >> buchanan was her guardian. both her parents died when she was about 9 or 10 and he was her guardian. >> legal guardian.
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>> he took care of a bunch of nieces and nephews. he was a bachelor. >> for the pennsylvanians out there we should mention he was pennsylvania's only president. >> from lancaster. >> we will be visiting the home he built in lancaster, pennsylvania, as the segment continues. as a reminder, we'd like you to be involved. it's more fun when you ask questions. you can do that by calling us, 202-573-5580. and you can tweet us using the #firstlady or post-it on facebook and we'll take your questions. >> there was a reading about a pygmalion between the uncle and niece and he was determined to shape her into a proper woman. >> he took very good care -- he had a very affectionate relationship with her. he loved her dearly. she loved him dearly. he was like a father figure to her.
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and he sent her to the best schools. she had the best of really everything. buchanan did very well for himself. he made a lot of money. so money was not an object. he could have just about anything that he wanted. and he saw to it she was trained to be exactly what she was, a brilliant social success. >> one of the influences on her education was when her uncle was appointed ambassador to great britain, her home country and she in fact met the queen. >> she did. >> tell us what you know about her experiences there and why she so charmed queen victoria. >> well, it's unusual somebody should charm queen victoria in such a way, but she certainly did. i think it was her youth and her effervescence. and she was such a change in this rather stiff royal court. and having read about her, she
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was a very happy girl, wasn't she? >> she was delightful. >> and you know, even the prince of wales, and he was only 18 years old, fell under her spell. >> they were somewhat contemporaries. >> he was -- she was about 10 years older. >> she was, she was about 28 by then but certainly queen victoria thought she was wonderful and gave her the official title of -- an official title, which wouldn't normally be given to a niece. it would only be given to the wife of an ambassador. >> and is it true that queen victoria was so taken she tried to make a match with her british subjects, so she would stay in the country? >> i'm not sure that is true. but queen victoria and prince albert, both of them, thought
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very highly of harriet and harriet enjoyed her time on the continent a lot. she learned a lot. she really grew over there. >> well, the home that james buchanan built in lancaster, pennsylvania, he was quite a successful lawyer and made a lot of money. >> he was. >> and built a big house he named wheat land and we'll visit the wheat land mansion next, explore her life there and see some of the items from the white house that were brought there as we learn more about her style and her approach to being the white house official hostess. >> here we are in harriet lane's bedroom at wheatland. and this room is furnished in a way that's very similar to the way it might have been furnished when she was living here. the furnishings you see today are actually pieces she owned after her marriage in 1866. so behind me you'll see her original wardrobe. and this is a piece where she would have stored her beautiful gowns, her european gowns she purchased from paris. she was well known throughout the country for fabulous
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clothing. she had a penchant for european fashions. most of her clothes were handmade for her. in paris. and the dress here was actually designed by the fashion house worth of paris and worn later in life. her signature style as first lady differed fairly radically from this dress here. she'd wear full gown with many layers of ruffles and white berthas at the neck and known for her low neckline, which wasn't in fashion in america yet but she brought it to the forefront of fashion and people started copying her. some of her garments created a bit of a scandal because she was showing quite a bit of skin but it caught on and all the ladies adopted this fashion. she copied her hair, her jewelry and general fashion sense. now, over to the right here we have a small doll that was not a play thing owned by ms. lane but rather created to look just like her when she was the first lady and the doll is wearing her signature style of gown with a
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white bertha with lots of tulle and lace. in front of me is a beautiful rosewood mahogany bed she had especially made to accommodate her uncle james buchanan. now, this bed is rather long for the time. he was a very tall man and she wanted to make sure he was comfortable so this is something she commissioned specifically with her beloved uncle in mind. we also have many pieces in the room which are american made and european made reflecting not only her pride of country but also her interest in european pieces as well. we have her prayer bench which is hand embroidered and holds her mother's book of common prayer which ms. lane used throughout her life and also a small writing desk she would use to sit and write letters to friends and luckily it's a portable writing desk as she spent most her time traveling to friend and family throughout the country. >> on facebook, rachel asks, was harriet lane truly more fashionable than previous first
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ladies or was it merely the development of photography that made her a fashion trendsetter? >> oh, no. i think -- well, photography, of course, helped because it was able to be reproduced rather than just a portrait, but she was a fashion trendsetter, absolutely. she looked good in clothes. she had a nice figure. she was bosom but wasn't fat. she made a lovely appearance. i think the only detrimental thing i ever read about harriet lane, some people thought she was a little stiff, maybe a little too formal. but with the political situation, being what it was during those times, i think she needed to be. >> i'm going to explore this topic a little bit more, because in the first ladies we've learned about to date they were either enormously popular in washington or not. the locust was washington, d.c. harriet lane, as i understand
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it, was popular across the country. >> she was popular. >> so this suggests the rise of media coverage of the white house. is that in fact what was going on? >> yes, i think so. previously first ladies were never mentioned in the press because it wasn't protocol to talk about and give ladies' names and so many first ladies remain unknown to this day, really, simply because nobody knew who they were in those days and the press certainly didn't feature them in any way. >> now they began featuring and people liked to read about them. >> she was good copy and liked to dance and supposedly was a good dancer. she gave a lot of parties. she was an elegant hostess, and she dressed well and she had a >> did harriet.
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lane play in instrument, and if so, which? >> i believe she played the piano or something that she did. >> were these parties, and i'm to stand the buchanan's, because of the wealth, they got an appropriation from congress. he supplemented this because they liked to entertain so much. >> i do not even know if he got an appropriation. i know there was not a budget for entertainment. >> they use it from their salary. >> so he supplemented that salary. use it for politicking? was he trying to bring together the north and this out? >> absolutely. >> was that successful? >> i do not think anything was successful in those days. the tensions were so high, and it was very, very difficult.
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he used it as effectively and efficiently as just about anybody else. it really was. the white house really glittered. >> next is a color, marjorie in , marjorie incaller vancouver, washington. daughtereptember my and a family friend and i visited the james buchanan house. among the things we learned was about harriet lane and her my daughter, a pharmacist, wind, this book i have been looking for years -- that was kind of fun. it was obvious from the tour why harriet lane was interested in so many things. it was not clear why she had such an interest in empathy and advocacy for native americans. i wonder if your guest might shed light on that. >> it is kind of unusual. when he got to
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the white house he felt any particular interest. i think there were some indian chieftains who came to the white house to visit, and i think they made a great impression on her and she became interested in indian welfare. and she was interested in their education. she was interested in their medical well being and health. which was a very -- it was a proper thing for her to be interested in. nobody is going to be objecting to educating children or taking care of people who were sick. so it was certainly a good thing the indiansdo. thoughts of her as their great white mother. >> you were responding when a color talked about visiting the buchanan has and seeing a manual for being first lady. is that something you know about? she had connections to the
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johns hopkins hospital and the pediatric unit she set up. >> we will talk more about that later. that happened after she got out of the white house. in a mark of how popular she came, a ship was named after her. a question from jenny webber. harriet lane had a unique the ship named after her. how did she give -- get this honor? troublear she got into for throwing a party on the ship. is that true? >> yes. >> tell us the story. >> how they named the ship after her, i do not know. but her uncle was president of the united states. he may have been able to swing it. he did. he invited some friends of hers to have a party on the ship. her uncle got wind of this, and he hollered at her. not for having a party, but the ship was public property and he
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felt she should not have used public property. he didn't want her to accept any >> traveling to wheatland, here we will learn more about the parlor and the entertaining style. >> here we are at wheatland. this is the home of president james buchanan and harriet lane, his niece. in 1848, they moved here. this was the place she would call home until the age of 36 when she married and moved to baltimore. while entering the parlor here at wheat land, this was a special home. this was the place where harriet lane as a host for her uncle, james buchanan, might serve tea to friends and guests, write
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letters to her friends. this is the room where the family lived. they would spend time together, play games, sing. just enjoy each other's company. very much like we would use a family room today. here we had harriet lane's piano. it is manufactured by the chickering company of boston. this was probably purchased in the mid to late 1860's. we have her music book here. it was embossed with her name on the front. it contains a number of pieces including italian classics, and we also have some patriotic songs in here. one of her uncle's favorite things to do was sit in this parlor on a sunday afternoon and listen to his niece play the religious hymns. it was a devout presbyterian. was something that brought a great amount of joy to him. harriet lane was enthusiastic about all things european, and when her uncle was selected as minister penitentiary in the
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court of st. james, she was excited she might be able to accompany him. to queenentation victoria in the court of st. james, she made a great impression. she had manners, poise, dignity. the queen was very impressed with her. as a result, the two formed an interesting friendship that would continue throughout both of their lives. is a giftlet, this that the queen gave harriet. bracelet.l gold on the inside, it has her name, harriet lane, and the date of 1857, when she received the gift. ofind we have a lithograph queen victoria and her husband, prince albert. these were a demand a gift. as his first lady, during the time in the white house. what is special about these, they hung in the white house and were brought back here to their home.
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harriet lane spent quite a bit of time traveling with her uncle, james buchanan. they also entertained international visitors during their time in the white house. one of the most interesting groups they had visit was the japanese delegation. the japanese delegation came to the white house in 1860. they came bearing all types of gifts. what we see here are some of the little things that they brought. beautiful little shoes, paper folded objects, origami. this is a little dictionary in japanese. they found all of these things very intriguing. >> we are learning about diplomatic visits. patricia on facebook asks, is it true that harriet lane host did england's prince of wales, the future king edward the seventh, at the white house? this was described as one of the great successes of the administration. >> huge success. >> why? >> it was the prince of whales,
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the son of the reigning monarch. they have not had anyone over here. he was the highest-ranking foreign person that ever came here. everybody knew queen victoria. they all knew about the prince of wales. he came here. actually, he went to canada. buchanan knew queen victoria. he said, listen, as long as he is in the neighborhood, come on back. so he did. they invited him. he stayed at the white house. >> she beat him at bowls. >> is that protocol to have the prince of wales be vanquished in a competitive game? >> not really. he just didn't play very well at all. >> probably the first time he lost it anything.
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let's take a call from president buchanan's home town, lancaster, pennsylvania. caroline is watching us. >> thank you. i would like to know how harriet lane is his niece. -- his brothers wife? his sister's daughter? >> it is his sister's daughter. in fact, over the course of his lifetime, it seems he took care of a lot of children. >> he did. he had one brother and about 4 million sisters. he came from a very large family. he did very well in life, and he rather 15in some way or 16 different nieces and nephews. lot of sisters. >> talking about president buchanan's personal life, there is a story about why he was a bachelor. he did have a great love
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interest in his life? >> they say when he was a young man, he was engaged to a woman. it did not work out too well. on what book you read, it did not work out for a lot of different reasons. the engagement was broken, and she later, not all that much later, died, and some suspect she committed suicide. the relationship between former intended -- they would not let him come to the funeral or anything else. just how much he loved her and how much was true and how much was embellished, we probably will never know. >> do you have anything more to add to that story? >> not really. my understanding is that her father discovered, he had apparently been thrown out of
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college for some misdemeanor, and minus ending is that her father discovered the reasons for this being thrown out of college. >> this is buchanan? >> yes. >> and heckled him about it. then told his daughter, and, she had a few words with buchanan about it. what thely guess secret was. they split up. she apparently did commit suicide. >> so he devoted himself to politics and raising his many ieces and nephews. >> story that she had a short fling with julia tyler. before she became mrs. tyler.
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, julia tylerroblem was in washington before she married the president. she was very, very popular. >> wasn't she? >> yes she was. whatever that, means today, with a lot of different men, a lot of different much older men. she seemed to attract a lot of older men. but whatever went on between julia and buchanan was really negligible. >> and ultimately married one 30 years her senior who became president. >> yes. >> the next call is from barbara in brookhaven, pennsylvania. >> ira member hearing the story aen i visited wheatland about brokenhearted buchanan whose fiance lived in philadelphia and jilted him. it had something to do with her family's objection to him. was just so broken
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hearted there was never anyone else for him. i remember hearing that story from a tour guide when i went through wheatland. >> thank you. here is a question from wallace lee. please tell the audience that resident buchanan was originally from mercer's berg, pennsylvania. and moved there from an adult -- moved there as an adult. it is disturbing to say he is from lancaster. g. he was born in mercersbur >> and he chose lancaster? >> he chose it to be his adult home. >> is it true that as he was setting the stage for his many runs for the presidency, he would use that spot for entertaining the members of congress? >> it was a lovely home. >> on the way to washington, he would invite people? ofit was a nice piece
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property. >> lancaster, pennsylvania is the sight of her next color, linda. >> thank you. i appreciated. i wanted to ask if you could elaborate on harriet lane's wedding, where that took place, and any interesting details as a result of that. >> harriet lane did not get married until long after the white house. >> she got married six or seven years after he left the white house. years old or 36 years old when she got married. buchanan was very happy about it. she married a man named henry johnson. he was a banker. some people think he may have been a lawyer, he may have been a lawyer first and then a banker. he was wealthy. they always seemed to like each other. maybe by that time it was time for her to get married. buchanan was very happy about it.
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later, a year and a half so he probably knew he was getting on in life and this way harriet would be settled, and then they moved to baltimore. and they lived in baltimore. >> we will come back to that. you called it a failed presidency. obviously the nation was about to split apart. south carolina was about to secede. here's a quick look at america by the 1860's. the population was 31 million. 35% growth since the 1850 census. 3.9 million slaves. the largest cities in the country at the time were new york city, philadelphia, brooklyn, and baltimore. all in the northeast. , was she also a political advisor to the president? if so, it did not turn out so well. >> it all depends on what you mean by advice. wasn't she political advisor in
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the sense of abigail adams? no. i think she was a little bit madison zaynelly helpful to him. she was observing. he trained her to listen well to take note of what was going on and form opinions. but she was usually quite quiet about expressing her opinion. which was one of the reasons she was very popular. she did not do anything wrong. >> here is a question. firstve the duties of the lady of all from washington -- martha washington until this day? it sounds like there are a lot of similarities. it depends on the individual first lady.
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>> actually, i think the first lady -- the first three first andes were harder working more actively involved in their husband's lives and their careers. when wepinion is that stopped being colonies and started being a country, maybe by the 1800's or so, that generation growing up, they were growing to, they were more prominence. they were very prosperous. men wanted their lives to have -- their wives to have all sorts of lovely things. they catered to them a lot more. they did not have to work quite as hard. these ladies at that time, they started, i guess being frail er. they were frail into laughter the civil war. >> here are some of the key
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events of the weekend and situation -- administration -- buchanan administration. supremee dred scott court situation on slavery. the lecompton constitution. the kanye express established in 1860. the first japanese delegation visits the white house. in 1861, the creation of the confederate states of america. this white house was dealing with enormous problems but not very effectively. how did the buchanan administration try to approach the negotiating, using the white house and bringing parties together? >> i think i would have to defer to you. >> they entertained a lot. they had two dinners a week for 40 people at each dinner. >> how could they keep tensions from breaking out? >> they were at a tremendous all-time high.
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and harriet wore another hat. not only was she hostess, but she also was very actively involved in the protolcol of it. -- protocol of it. she would spend hours working on the seating plans. i can't sit next to you, you can't sit over there, and who can't be over here because they are not talking to each other. she worked very, very hard at that. fortunately she knew all the players. she knew all these different senators and cabinet members and congressmen and so she knew how to put them and where to put them and she worked very hard at it. >> did she attend debates in congress? >> occasionly. >> another pennsylvania caller. i can see their favorite son is interesting callers tonight. chris, go ahead, please. >> during the time that harriet lane was in the house at wheatland, can you tell us how many people were in the house, how many staff were at the house at wheatland?
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>> i don't know. they had miss millie who was the house keaper. >> heddie. and i do know that they had a steward, because when they first went to the white house, miss heddie and then harriet didn't want that. so heddie had to go back to wheatland.they brought over a steward. >> they did have some staff. of theirknow how many family members actually lived there. nephewse had a couple that he had of the white house. serving as secretary. was very common among the early presidents, to bring
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in relatives. >> and to underscore. the people that worked at wheatland were paid. donna in idaho. go ahead, please. welcome. >> i have a small little story for you. >> ok. >> i taught first ladies for several years in an elder program here, and when i got to james buchanan, she said, i have something to show everybody. she showed everyone her ring. she said this belongs to my husband's family. this is the ring that james buchanan gave his fiancee. the original ring. >> did she have any proof of that? >> no, only a great story. >> somehow it went all the way to idaho. >> before you close the show i hope you discuss her tragic family, losing herself binned -- her husband and both her sons,
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and her lovely legacy. she did a lot of good. >> yes, indeed, we plan to. >> we promise it will be an interesting one. a full two hours on the lincoln south carolina. had seceded. so what were the post-white house years like for harriet lane? >> well, she went back to wheatland with her uncle for about five years or so, and then she married johnson. they moved to baltimore where he was a banker, and he was quite prominent and well to do. and they had these two sons, and unfortunately -- harriet had about 15 decent years as mrs. johnson. both her sons died young. i think they were like 12 or 13 or 14. they were young boys. she is another one that lost both of her children.
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and about a year and a half after the boys died, her husband died. so harriet is now around 50ish and she is a widow on her own. and she moves back to washington, d.c. and she gets to be a little like dolly. she gets invited to the white house just about every time they are going to be having a big deal. she gets invited. no party is a party unless she's there. she does a lot of good. she really does. >> we'll take a call and then talk a little more about her. this is charles in wheatland, pennsylvania. how about that? there's a town named after the estate. >> good evening. i don't know if your panel there has heard of it, it is a radio suburb youngstown across the state line.
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it is named after the estate.it was originally an old canal town. and then there is the wheatland tube company, which is a large producer of tubes and hirne et-- iron et cetera. the only question i have, i wonder if there are any other towns named after the estate of a president? i think this is rather unusual. >> that is a detailed question. do you know the answer? >> i know a couple mount vernon's. >> we are going to return to wheatland for our last video of this program, and learn more about harriet lane's post white house years. >> harriet's lane was marked by it can tell us a lot about her by seeing all the different tragedies that marked her life, beginning early with the loss of both her parents,
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several young siblings, and then when she reached adulthood, the loss of her three siblings who had also reached adulthood with her, followed by the death of her beloved uncle, james buchanan, and shortly thereafter the death of her two young sons and her husband ultimately. you can see here her jewelery box which would have held many lots of them jewels. used on happy occasions, but some of them used for those more intimate and very sad occasions when she was grieving. i have some pieces of mourning jewelery here that are very interesting. the first is a mourning locket that contains the hair her mother, her father, and three of her siblings, and it is unique in that that the locket encloses a little ball. as the wheel turns, scomputh-- under each glass plate is the hair of one of her family members, engraved with the names and the date of their death.
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this piece here of the locket is woven with a little pattern of hair from three of her young nieces and nephews. it is a beautiful locket. on the back we can see more hair and then the engravings of their names and the dates of their deaths. this piece is a very interesting locket in that it opens on two sides. in the first side, we can see a daguerreotype of her sister, who died very prematurely, just when she was turning -- returning from england. she came home to the news or dear sister had died. on the other side, 80 garret type of her brother. this is a very artsy photograph, taken sometime near the end of his life. he was a young man who died unfortunately just after president buchanan's inauguration. he had been said to serve as the personal secretary to the
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president. he died of an unfortunate case of dysentary that affected many people who stayed at the white house at that time. now this is a beautiful cameo on the front. when you turn it around, you can see a lock of his hair behind ferns cut frome. wheatland when he died. his lasts words uttered on june 1, 1858. it says "oh, lord god almighty, as thou wilt. from the outside it appears to be a normal, ordinary piece of this is an image of harriet lane's two young sons. james buchanan johnson and henry elliott johnson, junior. sadly, it is a memorial portrait. both boys died as young teenagers from what we now know
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to be rheumatic fever. one died here and then another died in france when she went to seek a cure. they are dressed in their best clothes and posed with their favorite possessions to show them as they would have been in life as a memorial for their mother to remember them by. >> and as we wrap up a program here, a caller asked us to make sure we talk about the white house years and the issues she got involved in. she and her husband together created one of the first homes for invalid children, called the harriet lane home for invalid children. it is still part of the johns hopkins in its current incarnation. she was quite an art collector, and her art collection was donated to the smithsonian and
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became the foundation for the national gallery of art in washington dc. she was involved in the creation school, still's quite an influential school in washington. and the james buchanan memorial. we have a picture of that. you earlier called it a failed presidency, but it is quite a memorial.here in the meridian park area of washington dc. >> i have a question for both of you. we are trying to understand with each of these ladies, their influence on the country and the roles that they had and how important it was. where would you put harriet lane in the pantheon of first ladies in terms of her importance? >> second. >> i would put her right below if she were mrs. buchanan instead of niece of buchanan, i think she would be second to dolly. >> i still think so even though she is miss lane and not mrs. buchanan. >> why is that?
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>> the interest she had in people. everybody loved her. she brought cordiality to the role of first lady after the previous two or three presidencies. she was a great girl, and everybody loved her. >> i want to thank our guests for this program on jane pierce first and harriet lane. both of our guests have books available where you can read more about these first ladies. one is "remembering the ladies," and "first ladies, an intimate portrait of the women who shaped america." thank you to both of you for being with us, and thank you to all of you for being our
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audience this evening. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> each weeknight this month, we bring you another episode of "first ladies, influence and
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image" on c-span. coming this fall, all new episodes of first ladies. begins monday, september 9, with a program on edith roosevelt. tomorrow night, first ladies looks at mary todd lincoln. during the program, visit our facebook page for a discussion with a historian, who will be responding to comments and questions. cspan.ok.com/ the companion book to the series, from the white house historical association. you can get your copy at c- span.org/products. >> egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of protesters at sit-ins supporting ousted president, and morsi. the government has declared a state of emergency and issued martial law.
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at the daily white house briefing, the deputy press secretary read a statement condemning the government actions. it was held at martha's vineyard, where the president and his family are vacationing this week. united states strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in egypt. we extend our condolences to the families of those who have been killed and the injured. we have repeatedly called on egyptian military and security forces to show restraint, and for the government to respect universal rights of its citizens, just as we have urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully. the violence will only make it more difficult to move egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy. and it runs directly counter to pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation. return --rongly
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oppose a return to state of emergency law, and call on the government to reinstate basic human rights, such as freedom of assembly and due process under the law. the world is watching what is happening in cairo. we urge the government of egypt and all parties in egypt to refrain from violence and resolve their differences peacefully. statement, weing will go to you for the first question. have -- is there anything else the united states can do? is the administration reconsidering its position on labeling this a coup? we are still sending $1.3 billion to the military. is there anything we can do to get them to compromise? weeks, the last several senior officials in the obama administration have been in touch with counterparts in egypt. we have had a number of calls secretary kerry has done with his counterparts.
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we have described calls between secretary hegel and his counterparts in military leadership in egypt. deborah terry secretary of state burns was just in egypt last week. he was joined by his counterpart from the you and the mets from the -- eu and the mets from the qatar. senator graham and senator mccain also traveled egypt last week. there are open lines of medication between the united states and egypt. as the statement i just read makes pretty clear, our view that the government should respect the basic universal human rights of their people is unambiguous. we have been very direct about that. continue to hold the interim government promise theyor the have made to speed the transition to a civilian democratically elected governments.
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that is what we would like to see in egypt. not just because of our firm belief in universal human rights, but because it is the will of the egyptian people. we would continue to be in touch with our counterparts in egypt, and would continue to urge them to follow through on their commitment to transition to a democratic civilian government, and to do so through an inclusive process. those messages are pretty unambiguous and are sent on a regular basis. >> are you considering the position on whether or not to label this a coup? >> as we talked about, we have determined that it is not in the best interests of the united states to make that determination. as we have said, we are on a regular basis reviewing aid that is provided by the united states to egypt, and will continue to do that. is the president monitoring this overnight? >> the president has been
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briefed on the violence that occurred overnight in egypt. as you know, the national security adviser, ambassador rice, is traveling with us this week. the president will continue to stay updated and has asked to be updated. he is closely monitoring what is happening. here,er what has happened why should the muslim brotherhood be compared to talk to the egyptian military rulers? conversatione deputy secretary burns and others had with egyptian officials is that it is in the sides torests of all pursue reconciliation, put in to violence, respect human rights, and put into place a government that reflects the will of the egyptian people. that is the clear viewpoint of the united states. it is also in the best interest of egyptian people. thee are hopeful that
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interim government will begin to take the steps necessary to affect -- defect that transition -- effect that transition. >> we have seen a range in the death toll. do you have any clear picture? >> there are folks who are monitoring the situation. who are working to get more details about what exactly happened. i do not have any more details to share with you specifically about our knowledge of this point. suffice it to say, they are trying to get greater clarity about what happens. >> when you say you hold the interim government accountable, in what way? >> they have made promises. when the interim government took control of the country, they promised that they, that this was only an interim step so they could transition promptly to a civilian democratically elected government. that is the promise they have made, any promise we will encourage them to keep.
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we will remind them they made that promise and encourage them to keep it. major? >> can you give us any more specifics about the timing of the president's briefing? did the national security visit thise to morning? was there anything that required him to be awake overnight? >> it is my understanding he was briefed this morning by ambassador rice. i do not know exactly when that occurred. we could try to get more details if that would be helpful, but he was briefed this morning. >> this situation has been building. the interim government has been sending signals for 72 hours it was moving in this direction. was any last-minute effort made this, tovel to avoid warn them, to urge the transitional government not to take the violence steps that now resulted in so many deaths? >> i do not have any six of to highlight for you. all along you have heard me and
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jay and other senior officials urge the interim government to respect the basic human rights of their people. there is no ambiguity about the position of our government, the united states government, about the importance of respecting basic human rights. that includes the right to peaceful assembly and peaceful protest. that is a message that has been communicated directly to the egyptians at a range of levels. it iss, our position on not unclear. or anxious ised the administration that the situation is not just violent, but is pitching for a long civil war? the muslim brotherhood has now assembly disrupted by gunfire, resulting in dozens of deaths of their membership protesting peacefully. -- end up inand up
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reconciliation? >> my statement alluded to this concern. violence will only make it more difficult to move egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy, and runs directory canada pledges to countereconciliation -- to pledges to pursue reconciliation. the violence we saw overnight is a step in the wrong direction. it is an indication they are not currently following through on the promise to transition back to a democratically elected civilian government. that they are not committed to an inclusive process. it is time for them to get back on a path of respecting the basic human rights of their ofple to include a variety perspectives and conversations about what the future government of egypt looks like. again, that is important, not just because of the importance of perspective the basic universal human rights that we in the united states hold so dear.
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also because it is what the people of egypt are demanding. >> secretary of state john kerry also commented at today's state department briefing. i will make a statement and -- they will stay and take questions in brief everybody. the united states strongly condemns today's violence and bloodshed across egypt. it is a serious blow to reconciliation, and the egyptian's people's hopes for transition toward democracy and inclusion. in the past week, at every occasion, more than the past week, we and others have urged the government to respect the rights of free assembly and free expression. we have also urged all parties to resolve this impasse peacefully and underscored that demonstrators should avoid violence and incitement. today's events are deplorable.
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they run counter to egyptian aspirations for peace, inclusion, and genuine democracy. egyptians inside and outside the government need to take a step back. the situationalm and avoid further loss of life. we also strongly oppose a return to a state of emergency law, and we call on the government to respect basic human rights, including freedom, peaceful assembly, and due process under the law. we believe the state of emergency should end as soon as possible. violence is simply not a solution in egypt or anywhere else. violence will not create a roadmap for egypt's future. violence only impedes the transition to an inclusive civilian government, a government chosen in free and fair elections that governs
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democratically consistent with the goals of the egyptian revolution. violence and continued political polarization will only further tear the egyptian economy part and prevented from growing, providing the jobs the people of egypt want so badly. stronglyd dates supports the egyptian people's hope or a prompt and sustainable transition to an inclusive, tolerant, civilian-led democracy. deputy secretary of state byrnes, together with our eu colleagues, provided constructive ideas and left them on the table during our talks. manyof my phone calls with egyptians, i believe they know full well what a constructive process would look like. the interim government and the military, which together possess the preponderance of power in this confrontation, have a
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unique responsibility to prevent further violence and offer constructive options for an inclusive, peaceful process across the entire political spectrum. this includes amending the constitution, holding parliamentary and presidential elections, which the interim government itself has called for. , all ofhe other parties the opposition, all of civil society, all parties also share a responsibility to avoid violence and participate in a productive path towards a political solution. there will not be a solution through further polarization. there can only be a political solution by bringing people together for a political solution. so this is a pivotal moment for all egyptians. the path towards violence leads only to greater ins ability -- instability, economic disaster, and suffering.
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the only sustainable path for either side is one towards a political solution. mym convinced, for conversations today with a number of foreign ministers, including the prime minister of egypt, i am convinced that that path is in fact still open, and it is possible, though it has been made much, much harder, much more complicated by the events of today. the promise of the 2011 revolution has simply never been fully realized. the final outcome of that revolution is not yet decided. it will be shaped in the hours ahead, in the days ahead. it will be shaped by the decisions which all of egypt's lyrical leaders make now and in these days ahead. the world is closely watching egypt. it is deeply concerned about the events we have witnessed today. the united states remains at the ready to work with all the partners,d with our
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and with others around the world in order to help achieve a peaceful democratic way forward. now,jen will be happy to answer questions. >> i will be back in just a few minutes. i will be back. >> also today, a discussion about press freedoms in egypt. it was held shortly after reports that a cameraman for sky news and a reporter for gulf le coveringilled whi protests in cairo. this is just over an hour. >> on my left we have sherif mansour, who is the coordinator for the committee to protect journalists. he has previously worked with freedom house in washington, and he managed advocacy training for activists in the middle east and north africa. in 2010 he cofounded the quite
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famous egyptian association for change. a washington-based nonprofit mobilizing egyptians in the u.s. to support the opposition coalition led by mohamed elbaradei. sharif has been involved in monitoring egyptian elections in cairo and has worked as a 2004ance journalist.in he was honored by the center for human rights for his work in defending freedom of expression in egypt. on my right is adel iskander, who was a scholar of arab studies whose research focuses on media and communications. he is the author and editor of several works, including "al jazeera, the story of the network that is rattling governments and redefining modern journalism." and "edward said." his most recent publication is the anthology "egypt in flux, essays on an unfinished revolution." you probably should've have waited to finish that book.
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he teaches at the center for contemporary arab studies and communication at georgetown university in washington, d.c. we will ask sherif to start. this meeting is being held today because the c.p.j. is launching its report on press freedom in egypt. the report is called "on the divide, press freedom and risk in egypt." there are copies available. please pick one up on your way out. i will let him talk about the report. >> thank you very much. thank you for holding the event. and for adel to come along. he is one of the people who helped us in writing the report. about the media environment in egypt. this report is a compilation of all our work monitoring the egyptian press violations since morsi took over in 2012.
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we have had more than 40 different pieces of commentary about press violations, press issues in egypt. and we conducted an assessment mission that, led by our executive director to cairo in march, more than 15 people from across the spectrum, ngo's, civil society, government, and opposition, to assess their perception of press freedom under morsi. since then, we have been planning to issue the report. the original date was june 15. you know what happened then. we decided to wait a little bit and see if there was anything to add about the post-morsi era. that resulted in a whole chapter that you will find in the second chapter that we call post- military censorship.
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that chapter, we tried as much to assess different things. one of them is the legal impact. this is our biggest finding, that yes, egypt had a revolution, several interim governments, and each of them have promised to include and introduce reforms to the system, including the press environment. for so long, the journalists in egypt have advocated for abolishing a lot of the restrictions on journalists and the press, and every government that came to power since mubarak said they will respond to that. they did not. the muslim brotherhood, particularly under morsi, had a complete opportunity to change the system. they ran a process to draft a new constitution. even at the end, they could not
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introduce anything they wanted to do. on the contrary, they did not just keep a lot of the press restrictions, they introduced others. in a constitution that was approved at the end of 2012. one of our partners, the arab network for human rights, counted as many as 70-something articles in the egyptian penal code, including the press law, that restricts freedom of the press and freedom of speech. in addition to that, in addition to the legal aspects, the operational aspect, how the government is handling critical voices, all the governments since mubarak was ousted have also fallen short of respecting critical views. under morsi, there was a whole campaign against the media.
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intimidation, physical and legal intimidation for journalists that included hundreds of cases of profiling against critical journalists. accusing them of defamation charges. one of our local partners, the egyptian organization of human rights, has counted 600 cases after nine months only of president morsi's tenure. that is like several times more the number of cases that were filed during mubarak's 30 years. the comparison is huge, how much the specific tactic, which we considered in the past a hallmark of the mubarak regime, morsi has won the title fair and square. later on, also morsi supporters have waged a series of attacks, physical attacks against journalists. we have counted in the first years of morsi's tenure, 78
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attacks, physical attacks preventing journalists from covering opposition protests mainly. those also happened around the media production city, which in several cases the muslim brotherhood and allies wanted to limit and intimidate media coverage of the opposition by organizing sit-ins, which sees to media city, which is a hub for almost all tv stations in egypt, including independent and private ones. that happened three times during the year. it only happened when morsi wanted to push in controversial policies. one of them was against the army. one of them was a constitution. one of them was trying to crackdown on the media.
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all in all, president morsi had kept a lot of the restrictions and renewed and used more of those restrictions and introduced new ones. the military government, in summary, over the last months have waged a wide campaign of censorship. it started immediately at the speech the general gave to oust morsi. several minutes after, several police vehicles stormed into the media city, physically stopped coverage of at least five stations that support president morsi, former president morsi, and arrested 200 people and
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later on kept 21 of them under investigations of so-called inspiring to overturn the regime. that is in the time the regime itself had only a few minutes to start. one of the people i talked to did not even have a chance to speak one word before he was arrested. these tv stations so far are so -- still closed. some of those are kept behind bars for accusations of inciting violence. so we have two things here. one of them is that there is an executive body, an executive administration decision without judicial overview or independent assessment of the content of the stations. that violates the national standards. we try to introduce some of those norms. there is a precedent in the johannesburg convention that took place right after the
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genocide of rwanda. you see the most direct link between incitement in the media and violence taking place. the participants in this conference, including people from the press freedom organization, journalists, and also people who represent the government opinion of maintaining order and preventing crime. the way they have handled this, to reach a balance in which they can respect individual rights of speech and also the government mandate of using sanctions to prevent crime. they have said that mainly we need a very clear and specific law that defines what incitement of violence is and also directly links it to changes or events on the ground, and also has an independent verification from a
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court that follows that law and interprets that law. it should not be an executive decision. so, this is one of the key issues that we monitor, whether this interim government led by the military as respecting freedom of speech. promises very similar to the once made by morsi to respect freedom of speech. one of them was delivered on, abolishing or reducing the sentence of charges of insulting the president. limiting it only to reasonable fines, up to $5,000 per case. but there are other important conditions. promises that need to be implemented, including abolishing of criminal charges on press violations, specifically jail sentences.
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we also introduced some recommendations at the end of the report for political parties, the international community. mainly to safeguard and protect the press by amendments in the constitution, which is an ongoing process that could conclude in a few months, but also helping independent of the judiciary so that they can act as an arbitrator and give press freedom. and also for political parties to help and secure and protect journalists, because we have a responsibility to the government in facilitating the journalists work. the international community should keep press freedom on the agenda. interpret thee to interim government's behavior
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and the response. this is the report. i try to summarize as much as possible. we are open for questions later. thank you, again. >> thank you. you finished way before time as well. foremost, thank you very much for the invitation, both to the atlantic council and for cpj, for having me here. my thoughts and reflections are going to try and not reiterate explained butd rather taking into the direction of the state of journalism in egypt and how legal and institutional problems we have described thus far in terms of the various authorities that have then in place in the past two years have had as far as an impact when it comes to journalistic practice. if i were to assess the situation as far as journalism
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is concerned, the last two years there are characteristic -- are a time when reporting in egypt has flourished and faltered. sometimes in tandem. we have seen the tail end of the last period of the mubarak era, there was an uptick in sort of openness of the media. journalists were starting to , or far more liberated were prepared to take greater risks and be as courageous as he could be within certain parameters as far as their news organization deemed permissible. of course, that culminated during the 18 days of the uprising, and in the aftermath it appeared as though the only pandora's box, the only black ox was the military. for over six years, the military had fairly strong grasp as far
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as the media is concerned. very little information about the military's political role, but more important, the economic assets in country had ever made its way into the newspapers or in public debate. it did not take long before that pandora's box opened up. during the 18 months of -- the interim period, during consecutive periods of political jockeying between various groups, notably the muslim brotherhood and alliance with various revolutionary groups that felt ostracized or marginalized by progress in the political scheme, that led to clashes in the streets. and the clashes in the streets provided munition for many of those news organizations to
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begin to venture into that space and begin to critique the military in a manner they had not been previously. we saw the military recalibrate in some --retaliate in some respects. f toas critical for ska illustrate their commitment to an open and free media environment in egypt. around that time that they newfied relicensed 16 satellite stations, some that are islamist, others that are private that are now espousing a very anti-brotherhood position, so basically they opened up the spectrum significantly, while at the same time, ringing back the ministry of information after having promised to dissolve it entirely. basically a mixed bag. nevertheless, from a journalistic standpoint, at the
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time when morsi was elected to assume the presidency, i think that was probably the widest margin of openness for journalism in egypt. shortly thereafter, of course, morsi found himself at odds politically with various groups, and that of course, translated into animosity from various news aganizations that ascribe to particular ideological stance or head interests that were not served by the muslim brotherhood. more importantly, what culminated was not a particularly open environment for the media. there was immediate retraction of the various gains that the media had accomplished during that period. probably the most important or the most critical and problematic of those curtailments was the rise of a populist movement that could be
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utilized and mobilized at will to target news organizations to besiege the media production city and things of that sort. it was no longer the apparatus of the state that was the sole instrument for the oppression of the media. rather, it was something a little bit more complicated. public, or the egyptian people, which is a necessary tool or has become a figure of speech -- where do the egyptians stand? we support morsi. we came out en masse to oppose him. as a figure of speech, it was used to critique the media. and arguably during that period, there was a struggle to really maintain some degree of professionalism within the egyptian media scene.
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towards the end, i would say probably shortly after the struggle over the constitution in november and december, 2012, that is when things really -- or the polarization became so entrenched that it became practically intractable. that media organizations picked a side and pushed for it in a manner that, of course, sort of was we will during for-- e bewildering for audiences that or mayt polarized, have seemed problematic from the standpoint of international journalists reporting on egypt at the time. you could not get two sides of the same story on the same network. the muslim brotherhood, politicians and officials, and islamists in general, would be prorated 24 hours a day -- be be
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rated 24 hours a day on private networks. on the islamist channels, the opposition could you no good, and they were realized and there were incitements. basically, whatever had been accomplished or gained journalistically speaking in terms of defining the characteristics and the ethics and the morality, whatever morals grounding journalism as a profession happens to have in egypt, was quickly wilting. but nevertheless, for those who believe there is something to be said about the value of having a partisan press, so long as it's diverse and covers a wide variety of different views, some rejoiced in these possibilities, that the there was an egyptian equivalent of fox news and msnbc. but this organization took on a far more ominous outlook in the
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daily after the removal of mohammed morsi. the examples that were described, where curtailments became, once again, the dominion of the state. the state said, this is problematic programming. this is in opposition to the new political circumstance, and it cannot continue to exist. so stations were taken off air. journalists were detained. here unfortunately, we are facing a circumstance now where a commendation of different factors. the polarization remains steadfast, more so than ever before, almost to the extent that when you are watching egyptian television program, you switch between channels and they can create a sense of schizophrenia, because on one side, you hear a narrative and then the other side you see the complete counterpoint,the polar opposite. conditions are -- one
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heavy-handed attempt to censor information that would be deemed problem attic to the transitional --problematic to the transitional governance process. a process oftly is self-censorship. this self-censorship is not necessarily the one we have grown accustomed to whereby journalists out of fear of what repercussions, legal repercussions they may face and of expressingy opposition views, it is more complicated. it is almost as if by committing themselves to a specific political camp, if they were to contradict the messaging of that camp, they would risk the continuity of the transition process or the argument that this is a coup. so the self-censorship i thin opportunisticn
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self-censorship, imposed by journalists for journalists to create sort of a media climate, and a psychic milieu within the country. that comes to the head with the events of last night and today, which i think for those of you who are following egypt closely, you will be well aware of the fact that two journalists have been killed, one of whom works for skye news, and another that works, a cameraman for skye, and a reporter for gulf news, a uae- based newspaper. the circumstances behind their killings are not clear. nevertheless, it at least lives up the performance of the morsi era, where there was at lesaast two killings -- am i correct?
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during that period. and they arrested numerous journalists. in a couple of months, the egypt ian media environment has suffered significant setbacks. but i would argue that, while the setbacks that are immediately identifiable, of course the loss of life as much as we tend to mourn and focus on this, i think the greatest and gravest fallback has largely been a loss of any commitment to the journalistic practice. as an important condition for the transition towards democratic governance. so, today we are at that point where media content precipitates a collision course, a political collision course between various parties. all of this to say that, really, most programming
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on egyptian media is comprised of opinion with spring things of news. that's a -- sprinklings of news. nevertheless, i think it is a product of 60 years of false messaging. course,absence, of historically, journalists are the most reputable and veteran journalist in egypt were often opinion writers, the equivalent of syndicated columnist. even if you use the word -- [ara bic] until probably the beginning of 2000, it would imply that one of the notable writers who had stopped reporting back when they were in their early 20's. at the end of the day, egyptian media was anchored on
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opinionated content. today, we are back to this opinionated content. arguably, the significant difference is that the impositions are no longer from the hierarchical tiers at the top. that applies to the state media. i cannot imagine the state broadcasting has reached a level of liberty from its own structural entrenchment that you could criticize the military on channel one or now tv openly. we have not seen it happen. in fact, there were a couple of circumstances where journalists were taken off air or there seem to be some sort of suspicious interruption of programming when something that was deemed critical to the military was being aired. so there is that component. but i think that is far less substantial than what i described earlier. i cannot find the proper word
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for it. maybe someone else has, maybe there is a term. the presence of lawrence, who has taught journalism in egypt. perhaps during the question and answer period, we can pick your brain as to whether or not there is an appropriate word to describe self censorship that is not necessarily out of fear of authority. that is probably one of the most problematic aspects moving forward. at the end of the day, one characteristic that we need to sort of recognize as probably a major detriment to journalistic practice moving forward is the -- sort of a crescendo of jingoistic nationalism in egypt today. and it is being drummed up arguably by both sides. just to serve their purposes.
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even though there appeared to be two different visions and two different perspectives that do not communicate across to one another, this entrenchment translates not just in the broadcast media, but also in the social media. social media world, unfortunately because they are defined by our self selecting processes, have become two separate encampments that do not communicate to each other at all. and because typically news organizations and media utilize social media to amplify their messaging, they end up either helping precipitate that even more or benefiting from it. various groups do not speak to each other or across from each other anymore. so there are two parallel realities. when you hear stories from egypt muslimit's either the brotherhood, or a violent terrorist organization that are being dispersed by professional police and security force. or that the police came
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out and he used live ammunition and slaughtered hundreds if not thousands, depending on who you listen to, of people. and so, this is unfortunately where we are. thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak. >> thank you. on that gloriously cheerful the, we are going to open floor to questions. if you ask a question, perhaps the best thing to do is maybe to take two questions at a time. actually, we do not have that many people. can you just identify yourself so that we know who you are? hello. >> hannah. i work for the cluster newspaper -- macluster newspapers. i remember there was a moment when after january 25 they were
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trying to purge state media of the stenographers and really, there was this schizophrenic moment where there was an editorial line on the front page that did not match page three, because of the slow pace of this. i was wondering how far that process got along before what we are seeing now. and also, what is the state of the journalism syndicate right now? >> would you like both of them to take this? >> sure. >> well, as we mentioned in the report and also he alluded to, there were about four months after mubarak was ousted where there was no information minister. so you can see that this was a very unique time. also, in this unique time, a little bit after, there was a
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lot of movement, allowing more voices to appear. so, for example, one of the things we talk about in the report, a lot of morsi's supporters have said that he is responsible for allowing a lot of those -- to exist. when he came into power, by the time he came into power, there were a lot more voices than there are now. many of those voices made by businessman who felt that there is an opportunity and there is needs for people to hear more were excitedople about politics for the first time. they were debating everything that happened. so we've seen a mushrooming of new tv stations, diverse opinions. it was not until morsi came to power, that those tv stations
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were shrunk in terms of numbers and coverage. and they started to become camps.hed in to two men before them, you have seen -- there were people closer to the military, who were in the military, the muslim brotherhood have their own channel. they are not fully aligned. you can see a lot of spectrum happening. in terms of the syndicate of journalists, we are in touch with them and two of them mhavhe urned on to o recommendations. they are in agreement with our findings and our positions. and they have taken on a considerable role after o usting morsi. m ande discussion was refor
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the legal system. they have managed to convince the interim government to restructure the high council and basically nominate people to be in the new counsel who will take issues, including code of conduct, and managing the process, the press, media, in the interim period. so they are taking on fully by law now the mandate that used to belong to the council under morsi, which is a big role to play. they have nominated at least three of nine or ten members who are running the council right now. >> organizationally, did they endorse -- >> not organizationally. the current leadership of that
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not an allyknow -- of morsi. there is a definite person that used to be the head of the syndicate for morsi, and he lost. last summer. yes, he has been not on a and as anasis, morsi, ally to the government, but we have seen him defend a lot of the muslim brotherhood media and speak on their behalf. for example, he interfered to help publish the muslim brotherhood's freedom and justice party newspaper. he also spoke out on the killing of one of the muslim brotherhood journalists in front of the presidential guard. zeera now speaking on al-ja
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journalist who is in custody now on the charge of weapons possession. >> i think he covered most of the territory. if you follow the trajectory of the syndicate, which you did until various -- in various periods, until the last periods era, it hasbarak been at odds with most governments. during the mubarak period and least morsi's time, at it became more pronounced after the election of -- el -- cautiousnk it's more with regards to dealings with the military, but at the same time it is trying to strike a balance. i think the journalist syndicate is a really good barometer as far as the health of the egypt
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ian journalistic enterprise that any given moment. i think right now it's an interesting time. towards the late end of the morsi period, the syndicate had become almost fully activist against the government. now a little bit more cautious. the other point i would make with regards to the state media and reforms, especially newspapers and who writes what on the third page, to a large extent what ended up happening is that, again it depends who you speak to, because the inernmentof mohammed morsi the muslim brotherhood will accuse the state media of d oring to be reignene refused to become an enterprise of state politics or refuses to be a platform for government. most of these accusations are
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directed towards specific personalities, writers, editors on the grounds they are loyal to the former mubarak regime. upon the assent of the muslim brotherhood that age old hostilities remained. so they refuse to acknowledge that this may be part and parcel of the reform of the organization to serve as a watchdog role, which would be a transformative experience for any state broadcaster or state publication. on the contrary, critics of the muslim brotherhood would say that it is during that period some of the state media did a had, atob thatn the they least better than the time under mubarak. and almost certainly better than the performance today. so i think there was a window of opportunity for state media to get shuffled up. and i think the shuffling did happen.
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the question is, who is identifying it is a good thing and for what purpose? so that is sort of where we are. when you have cataclysmic moments like the one we're are going to today, it becomes much easier to either contain or tame or bring state media into the fold to avoid inflaming the situation. of we've got a state emergency for the month and curfews. at moments of heightened over securitization there is a tendency for whatever gains made within the state media to be retracted or to be camouflaged. >> next question? nancy? i'm sorry. [inaudible]
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now you said you're watching two different camps. just ideological polarization? [inaudible] and the lack of nonpartisan states for independent, objective media that can sustain themselves -- puts cash on the table for them. [inaudible] where can these groups -- for these groups in order to sustain themselves? so they generate their own -- when something like that happens -- independence which was an excellent media in egypt, but they just had to close it down.
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>> the answer is more freedom and less involvement by the government and more innovative ngo's, fund and allow civil society to own shares of tv's and media institutions. so far, the process has not changed at all to be able to ope n a channel or to be able to operate a newspaper. there is less polarization in the process, but it has to be reconsidered. a lot of the people in civil society would like to have their voices continue to have ability to reach out either by tv stations, radio and so on, without interference from the government. it is also the fact that journalism itself has a responsibility here to speak in
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one voice and unite -- either -- against either or any of the media professional journalists. theee that as a role, is journalist syndicate can play, as a civil society organization away from government interference over -- and sifting our journalistic standards are and what are "code of ethics" would entail. we need to revisit the law, allowing more voices to appear without asking for more fees to be put in by organizations or tv station, wh ich allows more people to take shares and ownership and reduce the monopoly of parties or
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businessmen on the content of the media. >> i would add three points. the first is an extremely utopian and impractical idea which is effectively the restructuring of state media to become something akin to a public broadcaster. and really privatizing most of the newspapers and magazines, of which there are too many to be read. it is a huge drain on the national budget. but nevertheless, state broadcasting, if i understand correctly, employs 40,000 people. so something needs to give in that respect. so there is that age-old dilemma that is not going to solve itself immediately. and then the second point is, with regards to small, independent media enterprises, cuff,ean, sort off the
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spontaneous, extemporaneous and, creative citizen-style journalism which is spreading in egypt and has become a source of her lines for almost all broadcasters nowadays. the amount of footage that comes out at the job of a hat, something happens, you have hundreds of videos being circulated. i think that is becoming a critical part of the verification and cooperation and accuracy, dimension of news programming which is missing across the board. if you can verify, that it becomes newsworthy. , this is one of the few positive signs from what i thatseen in some polls, one of the top television news organizations -- it is probably -- of course, it has its own
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polemical anchors and talk show hosts, but by and large, as far as newscasts go, it is probably the most middle-of-the-road of all the private news organizations. since their ratings are extremely high, even though they do not cater to the polarities. they do not have any of the young pundits -- yelling pundits, they are still able to steer clear of all of this cacophony and maintain very high ratings compared to everyone else. so it seems like as far as audience are concerned, there is a space and an inclination towards news programming if it is made available. it just has to be -- this news has to be broken to all of the other broadcasters so that they realize that news is what egypt ians heaven appetite for, in
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addition to political debate -- have an appetite for, in addition to political debates. tosome of these polsls were circulate widely, maybe the cbc's of this world and all the other stations would consider news programming a far more important product. >> if i may, a quick question. depending on the type of media, anoney is always going to be overwhelming concern. i used to run a newspaper, and i can tell you it is expensive. talkingages, you are just production cost of over $50,000 a month. it's going to be difficult to keep out the large businesses or or state if it's print television. online is easier.
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the other thing is the last time we had a properly independent -- in egypt independent is distinct from opposition -- the last time we had independent was when -- was founded in 2004. and it has since given up any pretense at being an independent newspaper whatsoever. so we really do not have any left. i would like to ask you two this -- do you see a role for the state media? there are 40,000 people employed. we own two satellites. and other countries have state media's. that is publicly owned. so, do you see a role for the state media? we can start with you. >> i think there is a role. keep in mind that state media is the national archive of egyptian popular culture.
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everything from theatrical performances to children's shows outdated and probably a neck and mystic now nachronistic, are the part of egyptian state television. the key is bringing forth young talent to take risks from a production standpoint, to do things differently. i have started to see that on state radio, for instance. a lot of young people are putting together interesting shows, the kind of stuff that would compete with let's say radio xm programming in the u.s. i think that can be translated into television. unfortunately, because of the fact that state media are typically not a meritocracy and there is a fair amount of nepotism there, it depends on who you know and their
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whoections, there are those have been in the same positions for a long time and have become thentractable part of institution. there is very little room for upward mobility for those who are part of the creative generation or those who have innovative ideas. there needs to be a vision for change at the very top of state media. i think there is something salvageable from a cultural standpoint. keep in mind that, you know, the last six months of the morsi presidency, there was an outright attack against egypt's cultural industries. and that created a significant backlash, more so than any of us expected. we thought, nobody was going to pay attention to culture here in reality, it was a very serious part of what led to the june 30 protest. so i think the state media can
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provide a platform in that respect. and i would argue that it least 70% of all state programming, outside of newspapers, is actually primarily entertainment. so there is more to that than just news. so they can fail and falter as far as news is concerned, but if they can improve the performance produce as far as cultural and entertainment programming, then something beneficial might come through. of course, the revolutionary ferment that came about in the last couple of years was brought to the fore -- young artists, young people doing intriguing forf -- they are both vying and thirsty for an opportunity to be given a platform. given both the budget and the reach of state media, it would be an advantageous venue for them.
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> do think it is possible to have the state media maintain freedom? >> yes, there are a lot of models that we can see around the world. many that are in free countries, that some of them employ several factors. one of them is reducing subsidies to the minimum. that is something that is manageable in the egyptian case. we don't need that much, that many people to work in tv, the t v building. we do not need that the building. if you look at it, it makes you feel small. i think that is like the vision that was created back in the 1 of a to give this image strong country, but this is exactly why we do not need that building. tempt is an a tent on-- at on doing privatization model
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scenarios. and current government. we are told by people within the interim government that -- the current minister was appointed exactly to manage the transition. it was one of the arguments that was given when the military returned the cabinet position for the first time. they said this is someone that will oversee the transition toward a new a model of ownership. that ison't know if going to happen or not, but at least we were told that the new constitutional amendment will create a national entity that is going to be run by an independent board, not hired by or appointed by the government, but you left it from within. -- elected from within. and they will mandate that this body create mechanisms to make
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sure the media is competitive and that they are able to cover a certain percent of the investment -- there is an attempt to do that to see if this will go well in the upcoming few months and also if it will make its way to the new constitutional amendments. >> thank you. given the cacophony of polarization, how much of a subset is there of journalists who recognize they are setting up a system of oppression for themselves down the road? to answer your question, i think the word to describe self- [inaudible]is >> excellent.
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the age-old expression. non-n, again, as a journalist, and someone who has not practiced the profession, i cannot really get into the heads of journalists today in egypt and how they are processing this. i think what is happened is, it's a game of political brink's that is happened in such a way that each side believes if they do not take a strong stance against the oppositional camp that their opportunity to be free as journalists will effectively dissipate. there is a counter logic. they are not afraid of the punishhegemon that will their adversaries today and come back later. rather, they are concerned about the hegemon of yesterday coming back to haunt them later.
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animosityount of against the muslim brotherhood and the fear within a substantial constituency within the journalistic profession, far again, is the far -- cannot comprehend the logic, but it far outweighs the fear of the military enterprise, despite 60 years of history that the military has had, not a glowing one in relation to journalism. they are basically walking down that path. there are a few that are expressing this kind of concerned but they are a slim minority. on the other side, of course, it is a tremendous risk to criticize the journalistic camp which is quite miniscule and has no platform to rely on very more. to criticize the military. they, too, are hoping to empower
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their own camp in the possibility or the hope that once there is another ascendancy for the muslim brotherhood or another islamist government, that what morsi it was that mohammed morsi did not do to silence his opposition, he will do in the future. he did not strike hard enough. it is a catch-22 on both ends. i'm not seeing the loud voices within the journalistic therelishment, of whom ehr were 15 to 20 notable celebrities who egyptians had come to respect. today, you would be hard-pressed to find a single individual that you would trust and rely on their integrity through and through across these various eras. so, unfortunately, the
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encampment is too deep for them to see what this does to the profession and the likelihood of their progress and seeing through a free press a year or two years down the line. >> nothing to add. >> seems depressing. >> [inaudible] i wonder if you might speak to thestate of -- international media. there has been a public scandal of al jazeera. what is going on now? who is listening to it? is it deemed legitimate by either of the sides? in terms of positive pressure points on egyptians, and i do not just mean the military or the government, in terms of the
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there international regionaleather u.n., and country specific that are seen as legitimate in the eyes of the egyptian people who could potentially positively influence not just the media environment, law,he broader school of the new constitution, any of those areas that you see to have some positive -- >> that is a lot of really difficult questions. let me just say that i think al jazeera has -- now, again, we have to be able to distinguish al jazeera, the arabic language television network here to egypt that was launched after the fall of mubarak, largely because al jazeera is an organization realized they would lose a significant market share of
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burgeoning media environment where to grow and knowing the full well that egyptians have a preference for egyptian programming. we need a channel that has primarily egyptians on its air. and 100%, 24 hours just egypt. it was a smart idea to launch this network, especially at a time when al jazeera was at a high point in egypt. but unfortunately because of their overt support for the muslim -- i'm not saying there is no caveat here. i have been watching it for the last 24 hours straight without any sleep. if you can tell. it is a direct feed from ramallah -- every speaker, every personality, everybody on stage has a direct feed into al jazeera. so, by and large, given what has been happening in egypt over the last year and a half, al
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jazeera's market share inside egypt has dropped so dramatically and has lost what ever trust in egyptians had int it, that i think it is practically un salvageable. the hope for al jazeera and that those who believe in the muslim brotherhood or those who are oppositional to the coup or the military role now will y,fectively shift back and sa al jazeera ended up being the most trusted news. but that is not going to happen. and it also hurts by default you much all other transnational news organizations, broadcasting into egypt today. and a few that are able to salvage their reputation are the ones that steer clear of the back and forth by not inviting the pundits or the polemicists or the spokesperson for the
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different groups, which is a very difficult thing to do when when you haveides that one analyst is trying to figure out how to decipher this. the one that would able to gain a few points would be france 24, and a few other smaller stations. egyptians are completely engrossed in egyptian programming. if there is not in egyptian, they are probably not going to listen. i would extend that that there the psychic sovereignty to political realm as well. there is animosity and hostility towards any kind of intervention politically in terms of reconciliation. anybody to talk across camps are between camps. there is a strong reactionary reaction to this. we are egypt. meddling.want any
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we do not want the saudis and the u.s. to tell us what to do. that is the kind of atmosphere that exists in egypt from the standpoint of the political atmosphere and among the audiences as well. i am going to say the same thing. i will comment on media content. it is not our role to judge content, but as much as we s involving in collecting and disbursing information for the national interest that interest the -- we we would defend do not think that justifies any dislike or oppression by any government.
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i would like to add to the point about the credibility of iternational actors within is natural in those situations where there is a divide. you can see that in every aspect of public life. they believe that some of those actors that aligned themselves with both parties of egypt, and that there is no point on talking about that in a sense of taking sides. i think the advice that we try to share across the board is that just focus on principles. and one of the things that we think is people understand and -- this is not
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political in nature. says censorship is a violation of your right to -- but preventing her from information that you may like or dislike is a violation. we will try to message are cont ent --that this is something that is their right. and it does not matter if some egyptians like it and others don't. this is information in a very critical time. that people need to know in order to have informed judgment. thank you. >> we have time for one more
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question. -- embassy the political affairs. we have seen the media play an essential role during the revolution. and it will continue to be very important. you only take government -- will society play a role? did itective, how contribute? i think he contributed a lot to the june 30 protest. will we see some change to correct this half of the media? >> of course, any regulatory process that comes from the look atnt one needs to
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with some degree of scrutiny to ensure that it does not serve to restrict more than actually be permissible. in addition to that, i think there is a national --natural media monitoring that is going on where news organizations are being criticized publicly for their poor performance depending on circumstance. because the public itself is deeply polarized, they are judging of based on the kind of criteria you would expect journalism to be vvalued on -- valued on. you cannot trust that society will be the natural days to fix the problem. more importantly, it may have to be the professionals themselves. there's a huge role to be played for the journalists syndicate, for instance, and any other collaborative organization.
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there is one organization called the national coalition for media freedom. they released a declaration shortly after the toppling of mubarak. it fizzled away or became -- there were many such initiatives. those initiatives if taken seriously could really move forward in such a way that allows journalists to place professionalism back on the agenda. it is more important to tell the story as it is as opposed to doing it in a manner that is self-serving or serving to your political camp or serving to the interest of your news organization. there was a time when egyptian journalists were courageous enough to do so. or nine months ago, where journalists put their careers on the line and raced -- lives.-- and their
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lives is unfortunately the default these days and egypt. but they run the risk of losing their jobs. today i feel it is not their jobs that is on the line but some sort of accidental -- existential, something they're trying to defend that is more complicated than that. i would say initiatives from civil society, from various organizations and coalitions, syndicates, collectives, reporters groups. it has to come from within the profession itself, a recognition itself that aims are faltering, things are spiraling out of control. -- that things are faltering. they keep feeding the beast and the beast keeps getting angrier. so unfortunately, i always leave things on a negative note. i'm sorry. >> this is something we mentioned in the report that a lot of people who have been persecuted by the morsi w government were not why in
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showing some happiness when they saw those channels being shut down. they vocally supported censorship against these forces. we tried as much is possible to talk to them about it. i think by the time they realize that this is not temporary, and it is not just for a few days, and that has been in several weeks and it is still going on. so a lot of them have switched sides. speaking out. who has been a target by those tv stations has said that they are instituting a new form of mccarthyism in egyptian politics. ne hand he started to speak out against censorship. we are seeing that trend being reversed, and we are hoping that it will culminate into a bigger pressure against the military government to stop censorship. >> ok.
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thank you to our speakers. thank you to everyone. we're going to wrap up as i have been informed sharif has a media engagement. so thank you all for coming. however, i think maybe you need a few minutes to -- follow your out. thank you for coming. there.ort is over please do take one on the way out. on c-span,p next first ladies examines the lives of jane pierce and harriet lane. then a look at the implementation of the affordable care act. then general mcchrystal and the former pakistani ambassador to the u.s. discuss what the withdrawal of nato troops means for the region. on the next washington journal,
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brad will house of the americans united for change discusses his issue advocacy and agenda during the august recess. then more about advocacy issues and preparing for the house and senate to return with club for growth vice president. after that, citizens for affordable energy president john hofmeister looks at recent developments in the u.s. and global oil industries. and president obama's decision on approving the keystone pipeline. plus, your e-mails, phone calls, and tweets. " washington journal is live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c- span. >> what is interesting about washington is once you have that title, even if it is a short title, even if you have been voted out after one term,, you can stay in washington and be a former chief of staff, a former congressman.
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and that itself is marketable. you are in the club. and that is a departure from the days in which people would come to washington to serve, serve a little bit and go back to the farm, which is how the founders had intended it. so there is a new dynamic now and a lot of it starts with money and the money and research available for people to do very well. >> sunday night, mark leibovitz with an insiders look at the business of government, politics and media in washington at 8:00 on c-span's "q&a." >> the second seasons of first ladies will be airing mondays this fall with the first episode airing september 9. showingth, we are episodes from season one. watch it each weeknight at 9:00 and 12:00 eastern. next first ladies looks at the lives of jane pierce and harriet lane.
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>> she's probably the most tragic of all first ladies. she hated politics with a passion. she did not move into the white house. >> they had eight rooms they had to furnish. >> when she did arrive, she holed up and spent much of her time writing letters to her dead son. e called him my precious child. >> they were on a train and there was a terrible accident. e train ride was devastating for the family. he did not survive the crash. >> she concluded that it was god's punishment. >> the house was too much for
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jean to take care of. she wasn't about taking care of the house. >> most regarded him as a failure in the office. >> it was probably the unhappiest of all presidencies. >> good evening and welcome to first ladies influence and image. on this program we learn about the final first ladies of the ant bell lumber ras. first we meet jean piers. by the time she and franklin arrive they've lost all three of their young sons and this first lady finds herself crippled by grief. we'll devil into dean piers and to help us understand more our guest first lady joins us. >> set the stage. what are the issue that is
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bring franklin pearce to the white house? >> the situation was dire at that time. everything was in turmoil. there were problems between the north and is south and the slave issues and the democratic and there was a situation where they were having to find a nominee for the presidential election but they didn't want anybody from the south, obviously because of the slavery situation. franklin pierce appeared to them to be the best bet as a nominee at that time. and merely because of his reputation as a marvelous racketeer but he had remained popular with the south and it was thought there was a good chance that he would be able to win that nomination. there was a great deal of
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politicking, i have to say, around about that time. but eventually he was nominated at the 48 ballot. >> despite the 48 ballots to get him the nomination, he won the white house in an overwhelming landslide. >> he did, yes. >> so the pierces came in popular. but tell us about this woman we would describe as a reluctant first lady. >> yeah, she was very reluctant. >> what were her greatest influences? >> i don't -- well, if she had any influences, they were negative, i have to say. she came into the white house, she was a 47-year-old lady who it is well known hated politics. she was obviously deeply depressed at the death of her last surviving son. specially under the terrible
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circumstances in which he died. her influence within the white house at the time -- she didn't come to the white house for at least a fortnight after the inauguration. she didn't even attend the inauguration. but when she came she immediately said, i will have morning bunting around the house. and such was her influence with her husband, that he agreed to it. he accepted that it would only last for a year. in fact, the mourning period lasted for over two years. as far as influencing is concerned, she did manage to influence the powers that be, that she needed a new bathroom,
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a new luxurious bathroom on the second floor, where the family lived. so, yes, she influenced that. but as far as any other influencing is concerned, they were all negative. they made the white house a morbid place. >> a morbid white house at a time when the country is deeply divided. >> absolutely. >> how did this woman who hated politics, with a strong father who was the president of bowden college, a well-known preacher in his time, she was deeply fundamentalist herself. how did she get matched up with a politician? > i don't really know. i think she just fell for each other. my research does tell me that they really did think a lot bout each other, opposites
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attract, i suppose. they were opposite completely and utterly. my theory about her not liking politics is something that happened in her childhood, when she was 17 years old, and she just finished her education. and at the school for girls. and she came home much more confident than she'd ever been. and she'd gone visiting her uncle and aunt if boston at the lawrences with her mother and she was showing a different jane to them. and she was talking to them about a man who should have been made mayor in their town and hadn't been and she just didn't like it. and then she said to her uncle, amos, who was very, very important to her, why don't you stand for mayor? i think you'd make a very good mayor. why don't you stand?
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and the whole family laughed at her and said, howry dick louis. and even her uncle amos laughed t her. and i think, my personal opinion is, that a 17-year-old girl is stepping out into the world and using her newfound confidence, was suddenly put down by all these people she loved best in the world, laughing at her, i'm sure, i'm not a psychologist, obviously, but i'm sure that that could have had a lasting impression on her and maybe she thought to herself, i'm never going to talk politics again. >> well, before we get to our first video, i want to ask about your own interests in jane pierce. you're british. and how did this most reluctant and shy of first ladies who spent her first two years essentially hibernating in the top floors of the white house, attract your attention? >> she attracted me because i felt when i first heard about
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this lady that she was a very selfish person. that she didn't help her husband in any way, shape or form and i thought, there must be a reason behind all this. what on earth is it? i also felt for her because she'd lost three of her sons. she was someone i found during y research who was extremely fond of young children and she was made to be a mother. and here she was, a mother without a child to love. nd that got to me. i decided that i'd like to know more about this lady, there must be more to her, i thought, than this apparent selfishness that she displayed.
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toward her husband and his work. >> so in the end did you conclude that she was or was not selfish? >> she was to an extent but they were extenuating circumstances, i believe. >> well, to learn more about the story of jane pierce, we're going to learn more about this tragic death of their third son. the first two died early in life. and we're going to travel to her sister's home in andover, massachusetts, where we find out about the summer white house and more importantly the death of their beloved son, benny, which takes place as they travel to washington for the inauguration and just a few miles outside of town. this is andover,
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massachusetts. >> it was home to john and mary akin. mary was jane pierce's sister. they were very close friends throughout life. and mary was there for jane at all of her most important times in her life. jane and franklin came to andover to visit the family them. came here with their son, benny, to visit the cousins, mary and john had children and franklin and jane became very close and attached to those children after their son passed away. the family stayed at 48 central street which is referred to as the summer white house. it's called that because franklin pierce would come visit his wife in andover. jane would stay with her sister, mary, at 48 central street, and he would come visit them in the summers in particular. it was believed that the administrative staff stayed just across the road from them. jane and franklin were staying in andover because there had been a death in the family. jane's uncle, amos lawrence had, died. so they went to boston to attend that funeral. they returned to andover so they could pack their things and head where they could get ready to move to the white house. unfortunately the train ride was very devastating for the family. they were about a mile outside of andover, an axelrod broke on the train and it slipped on an embankment. as i understand it, benny was a child, he was moving about, this was within five minutes of
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the trade ride beginning, and when the train rolled down he was hit in the back of his head. very severely. and benny did not survive the crash. the services for benny took place at mary akin's house. they went to concord to bury benny but jane did not attend. she was very grief-stricken and could not make it to the final procession of the funeral. jane was very sick most of her life. she's been referred to as tubercular. >> extenuating circumstance, you describe her beloved only surviving child dying right in front of her eyes. anyone can appreciate how devastating that would be. >> yes, indeed. >> so, how did she take this grief to the white house? how did she approach her responsibilities there? >> she cast aside her responsibilities really. but fortunately franklin had a good secretary and she also had a mentor that was her aunt, abigail kent, who took over her duties. >> the white house was in
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ourning. we learned how incredibly social washington is. and how politics gets done in social interactions. > yes. >> so here we have a critical ime in the country and a white house in mourning. does that have a political impact? it would be difficult for franklin pierce to romance members of congress, for example, with -- >> yes. i was just going to make that point. he had -- appeared to have great difficulty informing his cabinets, at that time. perhaps they -- the attitude within the white house at that time, the fact that he didn't have jane around him to comfort him, as he had done, as she had done in previous problems they'd had together, and also
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he was mourning deeply, grieving deeply for benny himself. and the feeling is that he didn't get -- he could not put his whole heart and soul into the job of being president of the united states. and that a lot of people do feel that that delayed the establishment of his cabinet. it happened when he did establish the cabinet, it ran for the whole term which was the first time that a cabinet had run for the whole of the four years. so he did work well in the end by getting the best team
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together. but it's that sort of situation that did upset his way of working. to a large extent. >> when you read about her religious views, she believed, as i understand it, in a punitive god. there's retributions for actions. how did they process the death of their child? -- how did she process the death of their child? >> what do you mean? >> she did she blame herself or franklin pierce for it? how did she put that into perspective? >> she thought that it was god sort of punishing them for some misdemeanor. i think she did tend to blame franklin in some instance because he had not kept her aware of the circumstances of his nomination. when he did eventually inform her of the nomination, he reassured her that he wouldn't
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get elected, you know, i won't get elected. and i think she felt that he was being punished through the death of benny and she drew away from him and that made things completely worse. i think that if they had come together during that time and talked it through, they would have saved themselves a lot of unhappiness. >> and we should tell people that pierce had walked away from politics because of his concerns for jane. he resigned his senate seat. he went back to the family home. and essentially turned down appointments for things. so she felt that he left politics for good. >> yes. except the local politics. she accepted that he needed to continue with his politics and
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so he did. when he went back to new hampshire. she didn't mind that because she saw him every night. >> now, one interesting aspect of this is that she was on the second floor of the family quarters of the white house, but she was trying to seek some understanding of this. i understand that there was a spiritualist movement in the united states at the time and she in fact really sought out spiritualists along the way. what can you tell us about that? >> my understanding is that she did not seek them out, they sought her out. and i am aware from research that the letters shah she wrote to benny were not in any way mystical or spiritual.
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under the influence of these spiritualists. they were really a way for her to express her great grief and she wrote the letters and i think psychologists would agree with that because they do say if you're grieving or you've got some terrible loss, write it down, you know, and it helps. and it does. it's a proven fact nowadays. i don't know who suggested it to her, if anybody did, that she should write out these thoughts about her sorrow and his passing, but even if she started that herself, it was good because it must have helped her. >> this is an interactive program. if you've been watching us along the way on the series, you know there's several ways to get involved. you can send us a tweet, make sure you use the #firstladies. you can also post a question or comment on our facebook page. we have a conversation already started there. or you can phone us here are our phone lines. if you live in the eastern or central time zones 202-585-3880, or out west, 202-585-3881. we'll get for your comments and questions in a minute. our guests referred to letters written to jane pierce's son. we're going to learn about that next.
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we're going to travel to the new hampshire historical society which holds the papers of the pierce family and see two important letters in understanding of the will the story of jane pierce. >> this letter was written by benny pierce who was 11 years old. from andover, massachusetts, where he was visiting with his cousins in june of 1852. at the time the franklin pierce was nominated for president at democratic national convention in baltimore. franklin and his mother had been in boston waiting for news of the nomination. and benny was staying with relatives in andover. benny, knowing how much his mother disliked politics, wrote in the letter that i hope he
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won't be elected for i should not like to live in washington and i know you would not like to either. so this is an indication of the problems that franklin pierce is going to have with his wife and child as he ran for president in 1852. >> this is the most famous let that are jane pierce wrote. it was written to her dead son. he died in january of 1853 in a rain wreck in andover, massachusetts. and some time after that she was in her great grief, she sat down and penciled this letter. to her dead son. n which she calls him my precious child. i must write to you although you are never to see it or know it. it wasn't sent anywhere obviously and it survives today. a very poignant letter written by a grieving mother who had lost all of her children. >> so, you agree with that analysis. that because of the use of pencil in writing the letter, it was really not meant to be
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published. >> no, or seen by anybody else. she was just expressing her grief. >> in general, as you did your research, was she much of a letter-writer? did you did she write a lot to relatives? >> she did. but increasingly her writing became worse and worse. and they were hardly legible in the end. but, yes, she was a letter writer, particularly to her mother. >> and what portrait can you help us understand in reading her letters and doing your research, tell us about her. >> i thought she was very selfish. she seemed hooked on being ill. and they were never serious illnesses. they were usually colds. and she would have a cold at the drop of a hat, actually. if she didn't want to do anything she would say, i'm sorry, i've got a cold coming on or i have a cold or i'm going to have a cold. she didn't like to mix with people and she used her supposed ill health when she didn't want to go and visit them or do anything. she was very fond of her mother and of her sister, mary. but she didn't seem to write
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very much to her sister, frances, for some reason. neither did frances write to her. they used to mainly get in touch with her through letters to their mother. will you tell frances this or don't forget to tell jane that. for some reason there wasn't a good relationship as far as letter writing was concerned. but jane -- why she had this peculiar need to control her family, which is what she was doing, by referring to her decreasing health, i can't fathom. nobody has been able to fathom that out. unless it was just a prop that she had, not to do things she didn't want to do. in a family letter and indeed in letters to friends, there was always a concern about jane, how is dear jane, is her cold any better? and -- but there was never any -- although she had treatment
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ike blood letting, which was a favorite treatment in those days, there was never any diagnosis made she lived to quite a good age in her 60's, which was a good age in the 19th century. and it was at that stage where she was diagnosed as a -- [inaudible] but prior to that, no diagnosis had been made at all. so the impression i have got of jane is that she used the illness to get her own way. and she was going to have her own way, whatever happened. >> we have a question from
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phillip who is watching us in long beach, california. hi, you are on the air. welcome. >> hi. good evening, everybody. thank you very much for putting me on the air. you guys are talking about how gloomy things were in the white house, right? and didn't pierce's vice president die during his administration as well? >> yes, rufus king. he died within three months of being elected as vice president and they didn't have another vice president appointed after hat. so, yes, you're quite
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right. which added, may i say, to jane's depression. she thought that doom and gloom and death was all around them. she was very unhappy about that. >> what was she doing on the second floor of the white house all of this time? could we know? was she reading? how did she occupy her time? >> she was very fortunate in that her whole family rallied and much to her husband's pleasure, she did come and see her, they did come and see jane and spend time with her, particularly her sister, mary's children, of whom they were both very fond. but franklin hardly went to see her so he was grateful that the family visited so he didn't have that chore, dare may i say, of having to go and -- to go into a morbid environment. he had enough to think about. , so yes, she wrote
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letters. she didn't have many friends, unfortunately. but she did have this wonderful family who kept her going and there always seemed to be somebody there. as far as reading, i don't think she did very much which was a shame because she was a very intellectual woman, highly educated. that intellect and that wonderful education seemed wasted in some ways. >> next question comes from bonnie who is watching us in cincinnati. hi, bonnie, you're on the air. >> hi. thank you for taking my call. this is a most intriguing subject. i do collect albums from the 1840's and 1850's of the central united states. and i do own a journal that was written by a family member of william henry harrison. the harrison family coming from cincinnati. after his death, frequently the letters that do i have, i'm not a member of that family,
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however i do have several of the letters and albums hand written, journals, and frequently similar to mrs. pierce, in the older women, elders of the family, there is the serious concern and doom and gloom of just in general attitude toward who has deceased, who has succumbed to that. of course, consumption or tuberculosis as we know was a very common ailment in cincinnati, quite that. and i find that the prompting that she may have had to write about her deceased child may have come on her own. i have seen a new one but do see a letter from mrs. harrison, the daughter-in-law who went to the white house with william henry, one of her sons did die upon coming home after being shortly in the white house, and she had written a small letter, it is in the papers here in the historical society. >> thanks.
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i'm going to jump in because we understand that your comment here, which is writing to the deceased relative would have been somewhat common at the time. >> yes. she's made a very good point. >> a related question from john on facebook, he wants to know, was jane pierce criticized for her connections with spiritualism, even if they may not have been of her own choosing? >> not to my knowledge. > so, the public was kind of intrigued by spiritualism at this time? she was in the fashion in that regard. >> i suppose so. but i haven't seen any criticism except the only criticism i did find out about
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was the spiritualists making themselves known to her. she could have done without that. >> danville, virginia, hi, c.b. >> hi. just thank you for taking my call. and i had a comment. i was -- i have a friend that fits in the same mold as jane pierce. we call her a convenient invalid. but i also wanted to comment on the fact that i do arrange for rentals at a local museum and we have a hospice group that is going to be having a workshop for walking people through the process of keeping a journal, writing to their deceased ones or their family members that are in hospice care. so i thought it was kind of interesting, that that's something that was done 150 years ago and people are still doing it today. >> thank you so much. would you agree, the convenient
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invalid? >> yes, that was a very good description. >> before we go to our next video, you mentioned that abbey kent means helped out as the official hostess. who was she? >> she was, well, she had been a friend of jane. >> she has been a friend of jane in their teenage years and was of the same generation. but james' uncle, thomas, married her and became not just a friend but her aunt. that's who she was and they were very close. >> for our next video, we'll take you to concord, new hampshire, this time to the pierce map, to see some of her artifacts and learn about her life there and the loss of another one of her sons, franklin robert. >> franklin pierce had just finished serving in the congress. he had served two terms in the
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house and a full term in the senate. he resigned from his seat in the senate a year earlier than his term was up to move back to concord to be with jane and to raise their two children here. this is the only house in concord that they ever owned, and they bought that, moved in in late may, 1842. >> we're in the dining room at the pierce manse. typically the family would have their main meal at noon time. jane pierce was a shy,, reclusive person. she didn't entertain a lot in her private home. this couch belonged to jane pierce. this is one piece they took to the white house. they had eight rooms that they had to furnish with their personal furniture, and so this was one of the pieces that they took to the white house with them. this table was known in jane's sister's family as the white house table. they had to borrow some furniture to if a to the white house with them and this was one piece they borrowed from jane's sister, mary. they also took the little
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writing desk and chair that belonged to franklin pierce. this room would have been used as the guest room. however, the bed that's in this room is a small bed, and we think this belonged to benny pierce. it's been refinished and lengthened so it fits in a doubt. this is the master bedroom of the pierce manse and the room franklin and jane would have used. this is the room where their second son frankie died of typhus when he was 4 years old. this was a blow to jane and franklin. he was the apple of their eye, quite an interesting little character, according to her letters. and they were devastated by his death and jane was in mourning quite a long time over frankie's death. >> i think a big house especially with only one child now was too much for jane to take care of. i don't think she was interested in housekeeping particularly. i think she just wasn't capable of taking care of a house.
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pierce went off to fight in the mexican war in 1847 and they sold the house when he came back in 1848 and then they lived in a boarding house again in concord and lived in a boarding situation for the rest of their lives. >> we return to washington and the story of the white house because a fairly amazing thing, at least to my ears, seemed to happen which is two years into this darkness and mourning and reclusive life on the second floor of the white house, she comes out of it. how did that happen and what was this new jane pierce like? >> it happened because that was the end of the mourning period. normally, as i said earlier, it would have been just 12 months mourning but jane being jane, she took two years to get over the problem that she had over benny's death. and she wasn't exactly a new jane because she had, in spite of what people had said, she had participated in some of the events within the white house
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during the first two years. the meetings that the first ladies had every friday, and afternoon tea, i think it was, when people could come in and see her and speak with her, anybody could go, she did attend most of them. and this is evidenced by a man called h. hoover was the marshall of the district of columbia during that time, and he wrote to a mary witten who wrote about the first ladies and lived during the time of jane pierce. and it is evident that she did in fact attend these friday meetings, as much as she could. and sometimes she attended some important dinners that franklin pierce had to have. but when the mourning period finished, perhaps it was a relief to her, i don't know, but she did attend more and more and she even attended the president's letters he had on a
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thursday afternoon. so it wasn't a sudden new jane that appeared, it was she just appeared more than she did. >> next is a question from tony in shaker heights, ohio. hi, tony. >> yes, hi. thank you for taking my call. i'm curious, i know franklin pierce was a good friend of nathaniel hawthorne, the writer, and i think hawthorne wrote his campaign biography. i'm curious, what was hawthorne's relationship with jane pierce? he could be moody as well. >> thanks for the question and timely because certain biographies suggest it was nathaniel hawthorne and irena avis we'll learn about who were two of the very well known characters who helped with her reintroduction to society in washington.
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>> yes, yes. she didn't have a fairly good relationship with hawthorne really because he didn't like her and he felt that she was holding jane back and he wrote the biography for franklin's election and he wrote to her more than once, i wish we could change his wife. it wasn't a very good relationship back. he never was rude to her. he helped her as much as he could. he took her out on outings during the two-year mourning period. but he did his best to maintain the relationship simply because
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he was the wife of one of his best friends. >> as we said earlier, the country was coming apart at the seams, the republican party was beginning to emerge in reaction to the politics. >> yes. >> we have some of the key events of the pierce administration to show you some of the issues the president was grappling with while he had these family issues at home. and they include in 1853, the 1854 gadsden purchase, the treaty of kanagawa and the canada reciprocity treaty. and the first republican meeting happened in response to the national politics. it's interesting jane pierce became very involved in the slavery issue and in fact got -- one of the discussions over the kansas-nebraska act became very vocal in advising the president, her husband, the president. >> what you're referring to is the situation where nancy
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mason, her aunt, whose husband was dead by then, but he had a relative, i've forgotten his name now but she had a relative, he was the leader of the anti-slavery movement in the kansas area. and he had been held in a court and found guilty of a misdemeanor because that was every pro slavery area at that time and he was threatening to take this man, robinson, that's his name. dr. robinson. and he was threatening to take robinson to court, and if found guilty, which was likely, in that state at that time, he would be hanged. and so nancy had written to jane to make a plea to try and save dr. robinson from this fate. by then she was beginning to see franklin a little bit more. they met by then and she had an opportunity to speak to him about it. he listened very carefully and then he telegraphed to the appropriate person, and dr.
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robinson was freed. that is the incident i know about. i don't know of any other incident where she might have been useful and persuasive with regard to this situation. >> do we know her husband and she had differing views on slavery and abolition. >> they both were anti-slavery but he saw the sense of them having slaves in the south. and that was the difference between them. >> let me take a call next from karl in san diego. hi, karl, you're on. >> thank you. i read that franklin pierce had a drinking problem.
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i don't know whether it was during his presidency or after or what? but if so, how much of an influence did the loss of his children and his wife's supposed frequent illnesses contribute to the drinking problem, if that's true? >> thank you. >> well, we can't answer that truly, can we? after he left the senate and came back to live in concord, he gave up alcohol. when he went down to the mexican war, we hear that he probably took to alcohol again. it wasn't a new thing. and franklin always drank and his father had been a tavern keeper. and he spent a lot of time with his father, so that's probably where he took up the drinking habit. after the mexican war, he
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didn't let jane see him drink but i think he kept on drinking. so i think it got heavier at his most unhappy times. but i don't think that it was as a result particularly of those circumstances. i think he'd been drinking anyway. >> this unhappy white house was oomed to be a one-term pregnancy. can you tell us any more about why franklin pierce left the white house? >> it was -- he'd signed the kansas-nebraska act and that was a very unpopular thing to do. it was -- he didn't write it, douglas drew it up. >> steven a. douglas.
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>> yes, steven a. douglas. but franklin signed it. if he hadn't have signed it, i don't think he would have lost the -- his popularity, because he was still deemed to be a very good politician. you he did that. he shouldn't have done, perhaps. we see that with james buchanan and steven a. douglas put their names forward as nominees for the presidency. which meant that franklin wouldn't have had the 2/3 majority he needed to be renominated, and he knew with the three nominees like hat. and on the 17th ballot, james buchanan won the nomination and election for president. >> next up is mary in louisville, kentucky.
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hi, mary. your question? >> my question is, my name is mary means, and i believe that jane pierce's mother's maiden name was means. >> yes. >> and she was born, jane was, in hampton, new jersey. can tell me if that's where the meanses were from? >> no, they weren't. the means family, to which jane belonged, originated from ireland, i believe, when means -- i think it was frederick means immigrated to america and alongside him came his son, robert means. and robert was a weaver and became quite famous for making very good quality irish cloth. as a result of that, he made a
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little bit of money and decided that he would set up a business in new hampshire and just by sheer luck chose earnest and went to new hampshire and became very rich, very famous as a very good entrepreneur, and that's how -- that's where that means family came from. >> well, with the loss of the white house for the pierces, how did they spend their post white house years? >> the first six months they stayed with the former secretary of state, and then james buchanan who liked franklin pierce, although he didn't like his politics but he liked him very much, respected him, also felt very sorry for the situation of jane's deteriorating illness, so he said would you like to move over to medira, if you do, you can go for six months and you can go. so jane wasn't going to go but her aunt mary decided that she must go.
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so they got her to go, so off they went to medira and unknown to her and together with sydney webster, they also organized a european trip which happened to take two years. but they first went to medira and left it and jane improved dramatically and even went horse riding and hardly ever had a cold and she -- for being 5 pounds in weight rose to 100 ounds in weight, she loved every minute of it and wrote a letter to her sister during that time to say, i can't believe who i was when i was in the white house. i'm a completely different
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person. so that's where they went for the first six months. and jane improved tremendously, as did franklin because he didn't have the worries of the state. then they set off on their wonderful european tour. owards the end of that tour, he started being ill again and she was disappointed. she said it is disappointing after such a long time of being well. when they eventually got back to concord in new hampshire, franklin bought a farm but she became so ill she went to live with her sister in andover, maryland, where benny had been taken after the accident, and she died there. >> where was she buried?
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>> she's buried in -- she's in the -- i forgot of the cemetery. >> in new hampshire. the whole family is all together. >> her family is all together, yes. >> well, that ends our story of jane pierce, but as we hear the incoming president buchanan was fond of them, and in our next segment of first ladies, influence and image, we're going to learn more about the buchanan administration. we're going to introduce you to harriet lane who just at the age of 27 joined her uncle, james buchanan, who is our only bachelor president, in the white house, to serve as official hostess. she was well-educated and well-traveled and she became a popular figure in an otherwise tenuous time in a country on the brink of civil war and we'll tell you more about her in this video. >> harriet lane is a unique figure.
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she was 27 years old and the niece of our only bachelor president, james buchanan. >> we have a small doll that was not a play thing owned by iss lane but rather created to look like her when she was a first lady. >> she had been well-trained and learned discretion from her diplomat uncle and one of harriet's great admirers was queen victoria. >> this was a gift the queen gave harriet, a beautiful gold bracelet and inside it has her name, harriet lane, and the date of 1857 when she received the gift. the delegation came to the white house in 1860 and they came bearing all types of gifts, beautiful little shoes, paper folded objects, origami, little dictionary. ms. lane and her friend found all these things very intriguing. >> the great social triumph would be the first visit by the prince of wales and future
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edward vii and harriet presided over that. >> she'd wear gowns with many ruffles and white berthas at the neck and was known for her low neckline and wasn't in fashion yet and people copied her. some of her portraits created scandal because she was showing a lot of skin. >> she was young and style issue and became a celebrity. she was a precursor to the modern first lady. >> tell us more about harriet lane. we have two women at our table who both have been students of the american first ladies. meet feather schwartz foster. one of her book is called "the first ladies, an intimate portrait of the women who shaped america. and ann covella is with us, "remembering the ladies, a century of u.s. first ladies. we just had a doom and gloom white house and in come the buchanans.
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what was the atmosphere in the buchanan white house? >> the atmosphere, the political atmosphere was just terrible. it really was. buchanan got to be president, personally, i think, he had been a contender for about 12 years. he was very well known and had been in politics like 40 years. he was an old man by the time he got to be president. >> now, careful. how old was he? >> about 65. so he is definitely an older man. and i think that he got elected president because he had been out of the country for four years during the pierce administration, so he didn't get tainted with a lot of the politicking and the ugliness and the divisiveness that had been going on. >> were they looking again for a compromised candidate? >> they were looking for someone they used the word "available" a lot. that does not mean he had nothing better to do. it meant that he -- he would be acceptable all the way around. >> and what was the spirit of
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his white house? even with all the strife in the country. >> i think the best way to put it is that politically he was a dud. he ranked as the bottom of the barrel. but the whole white house, the atmosphere in the white house was brilliant. i don't think there had been anything like it since dolly madison. he had a flurry with julia tyler but he was only around for eight months and past that, the white house didn't really sparkle, but under buchanan, it sparkled. >> the woman responsible for coordinating life in the white house was harriet lane. who was harriet lane? >> she was the niece of james buchanan. she'd been orphaned at an early age and he took her under his wing. when her father died, i think he was made aware -- made it her guardian. >> buchanan was her guardian. both her parents died when she was about 9 or 10 and he was her guardian. >> legal guardian. >> he took care of a bunch of nieces and nephews. he was a bachelor.
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>> for the pennsylvanians out there we should mention he was pennsylvania's only president. >> from lancaster. >> we will be visiting the home he built in lancaster, pennsylvania, as the segment continues. s a reminder, we'd like you to be involved. it's more fun when you ask questions. you can do that by calling us, 202-573-5580. and you can tweet us using the #firstlady or post-it on facebook and we'll take your questions. >> there was a reading about a pygmalion between the uncle and
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niece and he was determined to hape her into a proper woman. >> he took very good care -- he had a very affectionate relationship with her. he loved her dearly. she loved him dearly. he was like a father figure to her. and he sent her to the best schools. she had the best of really everything. buchanan did very well for himself. he made a lot of money. so money was not an object. he could have just about anything that he wanted. and he saw to it she was trained to be exactly what she was, a brilliant social success. >> one of the influences on her education was when her uncle was appointed ambassador to great britain, her home country and she in fact met the queen. >> she did. >> tell us what you know about her experiences there and why she so charmed queen victoria.
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>> well, it's unusual somebody should charm queen victoria in such a way, but she certainly did. i think it was her youth and her effervescence. and she was such a change in this rather stiff royal court. and having read about her, she was a very happy girl, wasn't she? >> she was delightful. >> and you know, even the prince of wales, and he was only 18 years old, fell under her spell. >> they were somewhat contemporaries. >> he was -- she was about 10 years older. >> she was, she was about 28 by then but certainly queen victoria thought she was wonderful and gave her the official title of -- an official title, which wouldn't normally be given to a niece. it would only be given to the
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wife of an ambassador. >> and is it true that queen victoria was so taken she tried to make a match with her british subjects, so she would stay in the country? > i'm not sure that is true. but queen victoria and prince albert, both of them, thought very highly of harriet and harriet enjoyed her time on the continent a lot. she learned a lot. she really grew over there. >> well, the home that james buchanan built in lancaster, pennsylvania, he was quite a successful lawyer and made a lot of money. >> he was. > and built a big house he named wheat land and we'll visit the wheat land mansion
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next, explore her life there and see some of the items from the white house that were brought there as we learn more about her style and her pproach to being the white house official hostess. >> here we are in harriet lane's bedroom at wheatland. and this room is furnished in a way that's very similar to the way it might have been furnished when she was living here. the furnishings you see today are actually pieces she owned after her marriage in 1866. so behind me you'll see her original wardrobe. and this is a piece where she would have stored her beautiful gowns, her european gowns she purchased from paris. she was well known throughout the country for fabulous clothing. she had a penchant for european fashions. most of her clothes were handmade for her. in paris. and the dress here was actually designed by the fashion house worth of paris and worn later in life. her signature style as first lady differed fairly radically from this dress here. she'd wear full gown with many layers of ruffles and white berthas at the neck and known for her low neckline, which wasn't in fashion in america yet but she brought it to the forefront of fashion and people started copying her. some of her garments created a bit of a scandal because she was showing quite a bit of skin but it caught on and all the
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ladies adopted this fashion. she copied her hair, her jewelry and general fashion sense. now, over to the right here we have a small doll that was not a play thing owned by ms. lane but rather created to look just like her when she was the first lady and the doll is wearing her signature style of gown with a white bertha with lots of tulle and lace. in front of me is a beautiful rosewood mahogany bed she had especially made to accommodate her uncle james buchanan. now, this bed is rather long for the time. he was a very tall man and she wanted to make sure he was comfortable so this is something she commissioned specifically with her beloved uncle in mind. we also have many pieces in the room which are american made and european made reflecting not only her pride of country but also her interest in european pieces as well. we have her prayer bench which is hand embroidered and holds her mother's book of common prayer which ms. lane used throughout her life and also a small writing desk she would
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use to sit and write letters to friends and luckily it's a portable writing desk as she spent most her time traveling to friend and family throughout the country. >> on facebook, rachel asks, was harriet lane truly more fashionable than previous first ladies or was it merely the development of photography that made her a fashion trendsetter? >> oh, no. i think -- well, photography, of course, helped because it was able to be reproduced rather than just a portrait, but she was a fashion trendsetter, absolutely. she looked good in clothes. she had a nice figure. she was bosom but wasn't fat. she made a lovely appearance. i think the only detrimental thing i ever read about harriet lane, some people thought she was a little stiff, maybe a little too formal. but with the political situation, being what it was
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during those times, i think she needed to be. >> i'm going to explore this topic a little bit more, because in the first ladies we've learned about to date they were either enormously popular in washington or not. the locust was washington, d.c. harriet lane, as i understand it, was popular across the country. >> she was popular. >> so this suggests the rise of media coverage of the white house. is that in fact what was going on? >> yes, i think so. previously first ladies were never mentioned in the press because it wasn't protocol to talk about and give ladies' names and so many first ladies remain unknown to this day, really, simply because nobody knew who they were in those days and the press certainly didn't feature them in any way. >> now they began featuring and people liked to read about them. >> she was good copy and liked to dance and supposedly was a good dancer.
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she gave a lot of parties. she was an elegant hostess, and she dressed well and she had a lot of friends. >> marjory, you are on. last september my daughter and family friend and i isited >> i know there was not a budget for entertainment. >> he supplemented that salary. >> most of the presidents did. >> did he use these for politicing. was he trying to bring together
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the north and the south? >> absolutely. >> was that successful? >> yorninge anything was successful in those days because tensions were so high about as efficiently as anybody else could. it really was. the white house really glittered. >> welcome to the conversation. >> thank you. a comment and we visited the james buchanan house and among the things of a was about harriet lane and her endowment so that a handbook for the house officers could be used. they said the book they have been referencing for years was for a first lady but it was obvious from the tour

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